The Alarming Frequency of Birth Injuries
The birth of a baby should be a joyous occasion for expecting parents, but in many cases, errors made during the labor and delivery process can lead to devastating birth injuries.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nearly seven in 1,000 children will suffer from a birth injury in their lifetime. Birth injuries are serious injuries that babies experience in any period of childbirth. Some babies are able to heal from their injuries in a few weeks or days. Some newborns, however, endure serious injuries that can leave them permanently scarred and affect their everyday functioning.
Medical malpractice is a leading cause of birth injuries. Even though childbirth is an occasion associated with several risk factors, medical professionals have a legal obligation to practice safe procedures before, during, and after childbirth for mother and child. Common medical mistakes like delaying a necessary c-section, failing to diagnose a potentially life-threatening condition, and failing to identify infections within the mother or child can lead to serious birth injuries for the baby.
What are the symptoms of birth injuries?
Not all birth injuries are apparent right away. While something like a skull fracture or nuchal cord should be visible immediately, other conditions may take a while to present. However, there are some general symptoms that you and other medical professionals should take note of. Some of the symptoms involve:
- An arched back while crying (which can indicate pain or discomfort, or be a sign of spasticity)
- Difficulties with eating, suckling, or swallowing
- Hands taking on a claw-like shape
- Bruising or abrasions on the baby’s head, shoulders, or face
- Failing to begin breathing immediately after delivery
- Seizures that happen nearly 48 hours after birth
What are the most serious birth injuries?
The good news is that not all birth injuries will lead to permanent impairment. For example, a condition like Erb’s palsy may even clear up on its own, though in some severe cases, the child may end up with total paralysis in the affected arm.
Many life-altering birth injuries are the result of oxygen deprivation, which can lead to irreversible brain damage. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy and cerebral palsy can both result from oxygen deprivation. Skull fractures can also cause brain trauma, which can lead to cognitive difficulties later..
Other types of serious birth injuries have nothing to do with brain trauma at all. For example, kernicterus is an effect of untreated jaundice, and can be fatal. Infant torticollis can lead to permanent mobility issues.
Life-threatening conditions that can lead to birth injuries
- HELLP (Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelets) syndrome
- Cord prolapse
- Uterine rupture
- Placental abruption
- Amniotic fluid embolism
- Blood clots
What are the treatments for birth injuries?
Your baby will likely require several forms of treatment to mitigate the damage. The treatment varies based on the nature of the baby’s birth injury. Your child may require:
- Assistive medical devices. These devices are available for babies and children who experience issues with physical movement. Wheelchairs, crutches, and leg braces are just some of the assistive medical devices that help children move around in an easier fashion.
- Medications. Certain conditions may require your child to take medications for the rest of his or her life. Seizure disorders, for example, may be controlled with certain medications; if your child has to undergo a transplant, he or she may be on those medications forever, too.
- Surgery. Another common form of treatment is surgery. Surgery is a last resort option if other forms of treatment do not help the child. Children who experience serious symptoms like bleeding from the brain and blood clots may be required to have surgery.
One of the most common forms of treatment that medical professionals recommend is therapy. There are several types of therapy designed to help your child based on the issues they are facing. For example, babies who experience issues with mobility, speech, motor skills, and/or coordination may need various forms of therapies for months, years, or the rest of their lives.
If your baby has suffered a birth injury, you deserve to have attorneys in your corner who will fight for the justice that your baby deserves. Call Plaxen Adler Muncy, PA at 410-730-7737 or complete our contact form to schedule your free consultation with a Maryland birth injury lawyer. We have offices throughout the state of Maryland for your convenience.