Birth Injuries

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birth injury

Normally, the advent of a child’s birth is a time of joy and excitement for the new family. In some cases, however, these feelings are turned on their heads. Birth injuries are devastating, and can destroy a parent’s sense of safety and trust in the healthcare industry. Having an attorney by your side to handle your case for you while you and your family focus on recovering goes a long way in having peace of mind. Talented birth injury lawyers will be able to argue on your behalf and go head to head with hospitals and insurance companies, even litigating in court, to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Birth Injury Statistics

According to the CDC, the rate of emergencies that occur during delivery has gone up by 75% since 2009. Over the same period of time, maternal complications post-delivery have also doubled. An average of 52,000 severe complications occur in hospitals every year. In Maryland alone, approximately 48% of neonatal deaths in 2012 were caused by maternal complications, bacterial infections of the newborn, or other causes, according to the 2014 Child Death Report. Unfortunately, as of 2014, the infant mortality rates are still above national average. Having a skilled birth injury attorney on your side is instrumental in receiving the deserved compensation if a new parent’s child was injured or died due to malpractice or negligence, or if the mother herself was subjected to the same negligence.

Common Birth Injuries in Hospitals

A birth injury is defined as any injury or damage that occurs during pregnancy, delivery, or immediately after, including those caused by trauma. Some of the most common forms of birth injury include those related to the baby not receiving enough oxygen leading up to or after birth, pinched or damaged nerves, and even illnesses passed on from the mother during labor and delivery. Below are some of these injuries in greater detail.

  • Cerebral Palsy: Cerebral palsy affects movement and muscle coordination. This birth injury is m most often caused by the infant not receiving enough oxygen during delivery. Some characteristics include abnormal muscle tone, unsteady gait, tight or contracted joints, and uncontrollable, spastic movements.
  • Erb’s Palsy: Erb’s palsy affects the brachial plexus, or the shoulder and its nerves, of the infant. During birth, a doctor may use excessive pulling force on the infant’s head, which puts stress on the shoulder nerves if they become lodged against the mother’s pelvic bone. Depending on how much force is used, it can shock the nerves, or even tear or completely separate them from the spinal cord. Erb’s palsy is typically identified by limp, flopping arms, paralysis of the arm and/or hand, loss of sensation in the limb, and missing Moro reflex. Some forms may resolve in around three months, while others are severe to the point of permanency.
  • Kernicterus: Kernicterus begins as something much more common – simply an excess of bilirubin in the blood, which gives the baby a more yellow appearance, otherwise known as jaundice. The problem stems from negligence on the doctor’s part. If they do not recognize the signs of jaundice or allow it to go untreated for too long, the excess bilirubin will actually cause permanent brain damage.
  • Meconium Aspiration Syndrome: Meconium is the tar-like substance that the newborn infant will pass as their first bowel movement after birth. MAS, or meconium aspiration syndrome, can happen at any point during labor or delivery. If the fetus is in distress, they might evacuate their bowels and inhale meconium through the amniotic fluid. Once it gets into the lungs, complications such as pneumonia and difficulty breathing can develop. Signs of inhalation of meconium can include rapid breathing, slow heartbeat, a barrel-shaped chest, and a low Apgar score.
  • Cephalohematoma: Cephalohematomas are bruises that form in the soft tissue of the newborn’s head due to poor delivery techniques or as a byproduct of other trauma sustained before, during, or after birth. Vacuum extraction and forceps delivery are some of the most common causes of cephalohematomas. These generally resolve on their own, but can be an indicator of other birth injury or trauma.
  • Neonatal Stroke: Neonatal stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain has been cut off. It can be difficult to diagnose infant or fetal stroke, but some signs that one has occurred include difficulty breathing and eating, seizures, and developmental delays. Treatment should be administered as soon as possible, but if it isn’t, it can have lasting consequences on motor skills and development.
  • Infections: many times, infections such as the common cold won’t affect a fetus. Others, however, are a much bigger threat. Urinary Tract Infections, Group B Strep (GBS), and sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes simplex and syphilis can all be passed to the fetus before or during labor. When bacteria travel up the cervix and into the uterus, it infects the amnion and chorion, called chorioamnionitis. This can cause neonatal stroke and infections, such as meningitis, in the fetus if preventative measures like antibiotics and early delivery are not taken.
  • Drugs: certain drugs taken during pregnancy, such as Zofran, can lead to congenital birth defects, early delivery, miscarriage, or stillbirth.

Birth Injury Statute of Limitations

Birth injury falls under the larger category of medical malpractice. However, the statute of limitations for birth injuries is different than that of general medical malpractice. Instead of having three to five years for filing a claim, a parent with a child who has suffered a birth injury has until the child turns eleven to file a birth injury claim. If the injury was to the child’s reproductive system, or if a foreign object was left inside the child, then the time frame is extended until the child is sixteen years old.

Maternal Birth Injuries

Maternal birth injuries are a growing problem in hospitals, as well. Emergencies during labor include cardiac arrest, difficulty breathing, and even kidney failure. An incorrectly placed epidural can cause nerve damage and even paralysis, and complications from a Caesarian section, or C-section, may also occur. Hemorrhaging due to placental abruption, placenta previa, or a ruptured uterus are also problems a laboring mother may face. If a maternal injury occurred during the delivery process and was either caused by a nurse or doctor, or was negligently overlooked, a birth injury attorney can help the mother get the compensation she deserves for her injury, pain and suffering, and any long-term effects that may result.

Contact an Experienced Birth Injury Attorney

The birth of a child is supposed to be one of the most joyous events in a family’s lives. When either the infant, the mother, or both are injured, especially at the negligence of the hospital or healthcare provider, it can be devastating. Call our skilled birth injury attorneys today for your free consultation. Let the burden of handling your case be on our shoulders while you focus on healing.

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