Injury at Birth (Causes, the Law, and You)

Let’s start off with some good news – injury at birth is much less prevalent than it used to be. Prenatal analysis and technology is making great strides in properly preparing doctors for what may occur during the birthing process. Furthermore, the techniques for safe delivery both for parents and medical staff are becoming more practiced and perfected.

Even though the sheer amount of births that take place make it seem like a routine operation, the birthing event is a very unique process for every woman. Medical practitioners need to be in top form and prepared for all kinds of contingencies. Injury at birth is still a very real problem, and parents are advised to understand the common types of injury and their legal rights should a problem occur.

Let’s analyze the most common types and results of birth injury. Information is key for prevention, proper action, and appropriate reaction to any unfortunate event.

Types Of Birth Injury

  • Brachial Plexus Damage. A weakness or paralysis in the arms and shoulders caused by excessive stretching or pulling. Most of these injuries heal fully within 6 months, but those that do not often require extra surgery to fix nerve damage.
  • Cranial Bleeding. Caused by a ruptured blood vessel in the brain. This is much more common in very premature babies. Deformity or damage to the skull during birth is a common cause of cranial bleeding and can result in a loss of oxygen to the brain, resulting in further brain damage.
  • Bone Fracture. Fractures anywhere on the body can occur when the infant is either mishandled or is experiencing complications in the birthing process. Some complications include larger-than-normal size or an abnormal birthing position.
  • Facial Nerve Injury. Often the face comes in contact with either the mother’s pelvis and/or forceps used by the doctor. On occasion this contact can result in a damage of nerve tissue, made apparent by uneven facial movements (especially during crying).
  • Perinatal Asphyxia. Asphyxia generally refers to a lack of oxygen, and in this particular instance a lack of oxygen that occurs while birthing takes place. It can be caused by genetic abnormalities that cause weakness, infection, negative reaction to drugs, or pressure on the umbilical cord. Asphyxia Newborns often have trouble breathing and appear pale and weak.
  • Skin Lacerations. Depending on the force needed to deliver the baby, skin contusions and lacerations can occur. This can come from doctor’s equipment or contact with the mother’s pelvis/other internal body parts.
  • Cerebral Palsy. Caused by trauma to the brain during the childbirth procedure. Cerebral Palsy often includes a loss of movement and nerve functions. Generally Palsy will not get better or worse over time – the damage is set during the time of birth. Some common causes of Palsy include improper forcep usage and leaving the baby in the birth canal for too long.

Causes of Birth Injury

The above injuries, and other rarer problems occur for a variety of reasons, some of which cannot be helped by medical professionals.

First, genetics and predispositions play a huge role in complications. It’s important to be aware of any medical issues that frequently (or even infrequently) occur in your family.

Another cause is bad parental decision making. If parents opt to use drugs and alcohol during pregnancy (among other bad habits), they put their child at risk before the birthing process even begins.

Baby position, size, time of birth (being early, late) and other variables are important when figuring out how to handle childbirth. These things are among the most common complications that occur.

Finally, medical error can result in injury at birth. Misuse of technology, drugs, equipment, or technique can result in almost all of the injuries listed above.

Legal Rights For Parents

If you believe your infant may have been injured due to negligence or incompetence, it is important to begin your legal process as soon as possible. States have varying statutes wherein you only have a certain amount of time to sue for compensation.

As you begin the process, make sure to find a lawyer in your area who specializes in child birth injury. Medical complications are quite complex and you will want someone with plenty of experience and knowledge in how to deal with the behemoth medical industry.

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