What Is Considered A Birth Injury?
A birth injury is when a newborn baby suffers from problems at the time of his/her birth. Some of these problems may be genetic in nature and unpreventable. Yet many problems arise either because the doctor or nurses did not properly care for the mother and baby during the labor and delivery process or because there were some underlying issues that were not detected during the pregnancy and thus the medical providers were inadequately prepared to handle the baby’s delivery. Unfortunately, sometimes babies are stillborn; while at other times they have serious deficits due to a birth injury.
How Do I Know That My Baby Has Suffered A Birth Injury?
Doctors and nurses observe the baby as soon as the baby is born. Based on their physical observations, they will document what is known as APGAR scores. APGAR scores look at five simple criteria that are readily observable in a newborn: skin color, pulse, reflex, activity and effort of respiration. Also, based on how the labor and delivery progressed, doctors may order additional blood and urine tests, radiological tests, and also continue to observe the baby.
A doctor will check your baby and tell you how the baby is doing during the time that you are in the hospital. You will learn more about your baby’s well-being and progress during the subsequent appointments with the baby’s pediatrician. If your baby suffered any birth injury, he/she may have a longer hospital stay, be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit, be seen by more specialists, or have more tests performed. As your baby grows, you may notice unusual or abnormal activities or your baby may not be able to do certain things that you would expect him or her to at the given age – known as developmental milestones. Your baby’s pediatrician will administer tests at every visit and advise you if your baby is meeting his/her developmental milestones.
What Are The Various Types Of Injuries A Baby Might Suffer From At Birth?
Generally speaking, birth injuries can be divided into physical injuries or hypoxic-ischemic injuries.
Birth injuries that occur from a brain injury may result from inadequate oxygenation of the brain tissue. Lack of oxygen to the brain can lead to cerebral palsy, hypoxia or stillbirth. The degree of the damage can vary depending on the extent and duration of the oxygen deprivation, the area of the brain that suffers lack of oxygen and the presence of other mechanisms that can compensate for the loss.
Medical providers may use phrases or terms like cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy, hypoxia, hypoxic encephalopathy, “blue” baby, difficult delivery, baby was yellow/jaundiced at birth, baby was shaking, or baby had seizures, to describe abnormal findings at birth.
Physical injuries during birth usually manifest as fractures and/or injuries to the nerves originating from the spinal cord. Sometimes babies suffer arm fractures or nerve injuries because shoulder dystocia was encountered during the delivery phase. Doctors will typically use terms like baby got “stuck” in the birthing canal, humeral fracture, stretch injury or avulsion injury.
What Are The Causes Of Birth Injuries?
The causes of birth injuries are varied. Sometimes, birth injuries can be caused by inappropriate actions of medical care providers and hence likely preventable if the care providers followed the standard of care. Failure to follow the standard of care in managing labor and delivery of babies safely is the most usual cause for litigated birth injuries.
Birth injuries can be caused due to several reasons:
- Lack of appropriate prenatal care
- Inappropriate timing and dosage of drugs during labor and delivery
- Failure to appropriately evaluate maternal and fetal clinical signs and symptoms including failure to accurately interpret fetal heart monitor strips
- Failure to recognize and manage or prevent fetal distress
- Failure to recognize and manage damage to the placenta
- Inappropriate choice and application of operative vaginal deliveries (forceps, vacuum extraction)
- Failure to recognize premature rupture of membranes
- Failure to recognize when to allow a vaginal delivery to proceed
- Failure to recognize when to perform a cesarean section
- Delay in delivery of a distressed fetus by cesarean section
- Failure to treat preeclampsia
- Mismanagement of post-dated pregnancy
- Mismanagement of delivery of a very large baby (fetal macrosomia)
- Mismanagement of shoulder dystocia causing brachial plexus injury
- Failure to respond to and treat bleeding
- Maternal infection, gestational diabetes, clotting status
What Is The Consequence Of A Baby Suffering A Birth Injury?
The injuries babies’ exhibit at the time of their birth can be temporary, or permanent and irreversible. Permanent injuries persist for the life of the child and may impact their activities of daily living — with impeded cognition, comprehension and function.
Some injuries, like brain injuries, that occur because of a lack of oxygen to the brain during delivery can cause irreversible brain damage, which will manifest as difficulties babies have in meeting developmental milestones. Babies might suffer brain bleeds and infarction of brain tissue that may or may not resolve over time. If they suffer a fracture, some don’t require surgery but others may. Whether the injuries are permanent can be determined as the baby grows and based on how well they meet their milestones.
A delay in meeting developmental milestones is an indication of difficulties babies are likely to have when they start school and perform other extracurricular activities. Sadly, some of the difficulties are readily apparent if they are unable to walk or talk, or have spasticity of extremities that prevents them from performing normal activities.
Some may also express difficulties with:
- Learning — math, reading, etc.
- Comprehension — following one-step and multi-step instructions
- Attention — becoming restless or easily distracted
- Performing activities — grooming, sports, music, art, etc.
Birth injuries caused by medical professionals are generally preventable. Some of these injuries will permanently affect the child, who will have to endure pain and suffering that includes prolonged or permanent medical care, emotional problems, and financial hardships for them and their families. Although birth injuries caused by medical professionals are generally preventable, they are complex and pose a challenge to prove in a court of law.
What Can I Do About My Child’s Birth Injury?
The most important thing to do is to get appropriate medical care for your child as early as possible. Early intervention and support will help minimize the adverse effects of birth injuries and provide your child with the maximum opportunity to achieve his/her potential. Unfortunately, many birth injuries are permanent and have irreversible effects on the child.
It is important to:
- Keep your child’s doctor’s appointments
- Follow your doctor’s advice — including taking them to their ordered therapy
- Administer medicines on time
- Provide full family support to your child
- Ask your doctor about local support groups, including child enrichment, educational, and therapy
You may also file a lawsuit against the medical care providers who managed the labor and delivery of your child. However, there are strict time limitations by when a lawsuit needs to be filed.
Our Louisville birth injury lawyers at Hance & Srinivasan, P.L.L.C., have over 50 years’ experience in investigating and handling medical negligence cases involving birth injury. By nature, the circumstances surrounding birth injuries and the proof of the cause of birth injuries are complex and difficult to prove. If you are considering pursuing a claim on behalf of yourself or your child, make sure to get zealous representation.
Call Hance & Srinivasan, P.L.L.C. – Louisville birth injury attorneys who will fight for what is right.
At Hance & Srinivasan, P.L.L.C., our personal injury law firm in Louisville, KY, focuses on the following practice areas:
- Car accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accident
- Nursing home abuse
- Product liability
- Birth injury
- Wrongful death
Why Is Your Louisville Birth Injury Lawyers The Best Choice For A Claim?
Our Louisville birth injury attorneys are passionate about our work and dedication to meeting the needs of our clients. Collectively, we have more than 50 years of experience in litigating birth injury claims. Our Louisville birth injury lawyers experienced in birth injury cases give us the edge to know how to investigate your case and obtain the necessary information.