Birth Injuries: An Overview
Birth injuries can take many forms, but their defining feature is that they are all sustained during or immediately before or after birth by the child or the parent. If your family has been impacted by a birth-related injury, you may be wondering whether there is anything you can do about it; the good news is, there is legal recourse available. If you take legal action against the at-fault party, you could hold them accountable for their malpractice and any subsequent damages.
Common Signs & Symptoms of Birth Injuries
The most frustrating and frightening aspect of birth injuries for many parents is that it can be difficult to tell whether a child has suffered one — not to mention, it is of the utmost importance to promptly identify any injury so the child can be treated as soon as possible. Therefore, after delivery, it is vital to look out for any signs and symptoms that may indicate injury, such as:
- Pale or blue complexion
- Slow breathing
- Slow heart rate
- Stiff or floppy limbs
- Irregular limb movements
- Irregular reflexes
While a medical professional should be able to recognize these symptoms, sometimes their negligence gets in the way. If you notice any of the above symptoms, make sure to bring them to the attention of your birth team right away — and don’t be afraid to be persistent. Unfortunately, self-reported symptoms often go ignored, requiring you to be your own advocate.
Types of Birth Injuries
The most common types of birth injuries include:
- Brachial plexus injuries: any injury to the bundle of nerves that controls the arm and hand
- Cerebral palsy (CP): a group of disorders affecting a person’s movement, balance, and posture
- Facial paralysis: a partial or full loss of facial movement and/or sensation, typically resulting from the exertion of too much pressure on the child’s face during birth
- Brain injuries: any injury, traumatic or otherwise, to the child’s brain
- Seizure disorders: also known as epilepsy
- Clavicle fractures: an injury to the child’s collarbone
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE): a type of brain damage typically resulting from a lack of oxygen
- Developmental disabilities: short- and long-term conditions that often go hand in hand with other birth injuries
Common Causes of Birth Injuries
Often, birth injuries are caused by a medical professional who fails to recognize and/or address childbirth complications. A few examples include when a member of a mother’s birth team fails to:
- Monitor labor
- Deliver a timely cesarean section (C-section)
- Properly carry out a C-section
- Identify signs of fetal distress
- Listen to self-reported symptoms
- Handle umbilical cord problems
- Address a breech birth
- Address uterine rupture
A few other common causes include the improper use of anesthetics, the misuse of forceps and/or vacuum extractors, the use of faulty medical tools, and the failure to address shoulder dystocia (when the baby’s shoulder becomes lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bone). If a medical professional pulls too forcefully on a child with shoulder dystocia to help them along the birth canal, many of the aforementioned injuries may result.
Treating and Managing Birth Injuries
When birth injuries are minor or treated immediately, as mentioned, the baby often has a good chance of recovery. For instance, if a baby is diagnosed with HIE, they may receive hypothermia therapy — also referred to as “therapeutic hypothermia,” “cooling therapy,” and “neonatal cooling” — in which a cooling cap is placed on their heads for 72 hours, greatly reducing the likelihood of brain damage. However, this treatment must be administered no later than 12 hours after the injury occurred.
If ignored, even an injury as simple as a broken bone may worsen, result in infection, and/or heal in the wrong position. But if it is treated promptly and properly, it is likely to heal with little to no complications. Thus, the best course of action to take if you believe your child has any type of injury related to birth is to get them medical help as soon as you can.
The Question of Medical Negligence
Sadly, many health care providers are reluctant to admit that a child’s injury was preventable because they do not want to face the truth and/or its legal consequences. However, their guilty conscience should not get in the way of justice for you and your child.
With extensive experience in this area of the law, our team at the Law Office of Marshall Silberberg understands that it may be hard to know whether a member of your birth team is guilty of malpractice. We will help you investigate your case, determine whether medical negligence played a role, and, if so, help you hold the liable party accountable.
About Our Orange County Firm
At the Law Office of Marshall Silberberg, we have seen the full spectrum of medical malpractice injuries, as we have helped numerous clients pursue justice and accountability after negligent health care providers altered their lives and the lives of their children. If you or someone you love is in need of experienced legal help, don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of our attorney team. Our lawyers genuinely care about helping you obtain justice; to prove it, if we don’t win your case, you won’t owe us a dime.
Call the Law Office of Marshall Silberberg at (949) 565-4281 or submit an online contact form today.