One of the happiest moments of your life can quickly become one of the scariest when you learn your newborn has suffered a birth injury. While birth injuries are sometimes due to genetics, others are caused as a result of health care providers’ negligence or recklessness during the birth process. If you have question about common causes of birth injury or would like to explore your legal options for compensation and justice following your child’s birth injury, contact the experienced and compassionate birth injury attorneys at Karlin & Karlin at 888-365-1555 today.
What Is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury is one that happens to an infant at some point before or during the birthing process. Some birth injuries are due to genetics or other factors that cannot be prevented. Others are due to the negligent acts or omissions of the birthing or pregnancy team. Some birth injuries are temporary in nature while others are debilitating and permanent.
Common Types of Birth Injuries
According to Stanford Children’s Health, some of the most common birth injuries are:
- Brachial palsy – This birth injury occurs when the group of nerves that supplies the arms and hands is injured, such as when the baby’s shoulders get stuck in the birth canal. Tearing of the brachial plexus nerve can result in permanent nerve damage.
- Swelling or bruising of the head – Some babies have difficulty being born naturally and doctors and midwives may resort to using forceps or vacuum extractors to assist with the delivery. These tools can cause bruising or swelling to the head. A significant swelling of the baby’s scalp soft tissues can result in a more serious condition called caput succedaneum.
- Facial paralysis – The pressure on the baby’s face during birth and delivery can injure the facial nerve. In some situations, this results in facial paralysis. There may be no movement on the side of the face where the injury closed, and the baby might not even be able to close their eye on that side of their face.
- Fractures – The baby’s clavicle may break in cases of a breech or other problematic delivery.
- Cephalohematoma – Cephalohematoma is bleeding between the skull bone and its covering. In many cases, the injury heals within a few weeks. However, it can lead to jaundice in other cases.
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage – This injury is due to breakage of small blood vessels in the baby’s eyes.
These are just a few common birth injuries, but there are many others. Birth injuries that affect the neck and brain can lead to serious conditions like cerebral palsy or brain damage. It is important to understand that any trauma that occurs during the birthing process could result in a birth injury.
Risk Factors for Birth Injuries
The University of Rochester Medical Center research states that certain factors can make it more likely for a birth injury to occur, such as:
- The newborn is larger than a typical sized baby
- The newborn is born earlier than expected, or as a preemie
- The newborn was delivered through a breech birth, or not born in a typical head-first position
- The positioning, shape or size of the mother’s birth canal and/or pelvis makes it more challenging for a natural birth to occur
- The mother is obese or overweight
- The labor is very long or difficult
- The birth is performed by cesarean delivery
- The medical team uses vacuum or forceps to deliver the baby
Other potential factors may be present, based on the mother or baby’s health. For example, the mother may have preeclampsia due to high blood pressure. The mother may have an infection that adversely affects the baby or their oxygen supply. Abnormal presentation can cause issues because the baby has not maneuvered into the typical head-first position to prepare for birth. Even some pain relief medications can increase the likelihood of a birth injury.
Most Common Causes of Birth Injuries
Some of the most common causes of birth injuries are:
- Natural causes – Some birth injuries are simply unavoidable, such as due to a large baby.
- Congenital disorders – Some birth injuries are due to congenital disorders.
- Medical negligence – Medical negligence or malpractice is sometimes responsible for birth injuries.
When Negligence Causes a Birth Injury
Tragically, errors by doctors or other medical professionals are often responsible for birth injuries. These errors can occur at any time before, during, or after delivery. Some examples of medical mistakes that can cause a birth injury include:
- The baby did not get enough oxygen because the care team failed to recognize signs of fetal distress
- A midwife fails to identify risk factors during pregnancy
- An obstetrician fails to order necessary tests before delivery
- A medical provider improperly used forceps and caused a brain hemorrhage
- A doctor fails to notice a compressed umbilical cord before delivery
- A delivery nurse excessively pulls on the baby’s head, shoulders, or arms
- A medical provider fails to perform a C-section when the situation calls for it
- A medical provider failed to diagnose a maternal infection that affected the baby
- A doctor fails to reconcile the mother’s current prescriptions and administers a pain medication that has an adverse reaction
- A doctor fails to provide proper aftercare after delivery
- A doctor misdiagnoses a life-threatening birth trauma
If medical negligence or malpractice causes a birth injury, the child’s parents can pursue compensation for the damages stemming from that injury. For more information about birth injury claims and the justice you may be able to pursue against a medical professional, contact the experienced birth injury attorneys at Karlin & Karlin.
Damages for a Birth Injury Claim
If your child is injured by a negligent health care provider, you may be able to seek compensation for past and future:
- Assistive devices
- Therapy services, including physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy
- Special education programs
- Mobility aids and assistive devices
- Transportation modifications
- Lost earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional damages
Every case will have its own unique facts and circumstances, and it is important to ensure your legal rights remain protected.
Contact a Birth Injury Lawyer for Help
After reviewing the list of common causes of birth injuries above, if you have more questions about your baby’s injury, consider contacting the compassionate and experienced birth injury attorneys at Karlin & Karlin at 888-365-1555 for a free case review. Our knowledgeable lawyers can review the circumstances surrounding the birth of your child and assess whether you have a viable legal claim against a negligent medical provider.