Birth injuries are injuries that occur before, during or after a child’s birth. A number of birth injuries are preventable and are often caused by carelessness, negligence and/or incompetence of the medical professionals involved. Some birth injuries may be obvious and identified right away. Examples of these injuries include those caused by birth-assistive tools such as forceps or vacuum extractors. Other examples of obvious injuries include broken bones, bruises and disfigurement.
However, the more serious birth injuries tend to be discovered over time. Some symptoms indicative of severe problems include children who have bluish skin color, those who have breathing issues, inability to suck or cry, spastic motions or seizures. Some children may simply show developmental delays or the inability to move their arms, which may be symptoms of a brachial plexus injury.
1. Prolonged labor: Labor that extends beyond 18 hours are considered long, difficult labors. The longer a labor gets to be the more signs of fetal distress the child might show. The child’s blood pressure might become elevated. Prolonged labor can be a serious problem if the baby gets lodged in the birth canal without sufficient oxygen supply or if the child is not delivered within 24 hours of the mother’s water breaking. During prolonged labor, there is also the increased likelihood of umbilical cord compression, placental detachment, maternal low blood pressure and birth trauma.
2. Oxygen deprivation: When a child gets stuck in the birth canal for an extended period of time, there is the possibility that he or she is not getting sufficient oxygen. Almost all birth injuries that result in brain damage involve oxygen deprivation. When oxygen supply to the brain gets cut off, there is a severe risk of cerebral palsy and irreversible brain damage.
3. Maternal infections: Researchers at the Mayo Clinic say there are certain types of maternal infections during pregnancy that can increase the risk of brain damage to the child, which may lead to cerebral palsy. If your doctor fails to diagnose and treat these maternal infections, your child is at risk of suffering a birth injury. Some of the infections that may potentially lead to birth injuries include urinary tract infections, rubella, syphilis and chicken pox.
4. Premature birth: Infants born before 37 weeks of gestation face a number of hazards including a heightened risk for birth injuries. If there is reason to believe that you are at risk for premature birth, bed rest should be recommended until the child is mature enough to be delivered safely. Some of the common birth injuries linked to premature birth include fractures, lacerations and oxygen deprivation.
5. Breech position: A child is said to be in breech position when he or she is feet first as opposed to head-first. This may lead to a number of serious complications including shoulder dystocia where the child’s shoulder gets stuck on the mother’s pelvic bone. This is a condition that often leads to brachial plexus injuries, particularly if the obstetrician applies excessive force to remove the child.
When these red flags arise, the best option in many cases may be to perform a Cesarean Section in order to prevent birth trauma. When a doctor fails to diagnose critical factors or fails to take the necessary actions to minimize risk for the mother and child resulting in birth injuries, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit seeking compensation.
Filing a Birth Injury Lawsuit
Birth injuries can be extremely traumatic and the consequences can be long lasting. The parents of a child who has been injured at birth may be able to seek compensation for damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, future income, loss of livelihood, costs of continuing treatment, rehabilitative therapy, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc.
If your child has suffered a birth injury as the result of medical negligence, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
One of our clients secured a $2,850,000 verdict in an arm injury case (Erb’s palsy also known as brachial plexus palsy) that was reduced by the appeals court to $1,850,000 because the verdict was so large. This was the highest amount upheld by the appellate courts in an Erb’s palsy case for many, many years. In addition we recovered $1,400,000 for a newborn who lost motion in the arm during birth due to doctors applying incorrect force on the baby’s head.
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