Having a child is an important milestone in many adults’ lives. In some cases, births do not go as smoothly as planned and injuries happen to the mother, the infant or both. Birth injuries can be devastating to both the parents and the infant because they can cause lifelong symptoms and can affect your baby’s growth and development. There are many different types of birth injuries that range from mild to severe, but any preventable birth injury is an unacceptable outcome of poor decision-making or negligence on the doctor’s part.
Causes of Birth Injuries
A birth injury can be caused by a number of things, some due to decisions made by your doctor and some associated with conditions present before or during the baby’s birth. Risk factors for birth injuries can include:
- Large birth weight, over 8 pounds, 13 ounces;
- Premature babies born before 37 weeks' gestation;
- Mother’s pelvis is too small for a vaginal birth or not shaped correctly;
- Difficult or prolonged labor; and
- Abnormal birthing presentation, such as a breech delivery.
Birth injuries can also be caused by decisions made by your doctor. These causes can include:
- Failure to monitor the baby’s heart rate;
- Failure to detect signs of fetal distress during or before birth;
- Failure to determine whether or not a cesarean birth is required;
- Failure to detect infections or other problems in the mother or the baby;
- Improper use of delivery instruments, such as forceps or a vacuum; and
- Failure to calculate the size or term of the baby.
Types of Birth Injuries
Erb’s Palsy: Erb’s palsy is a type of brachial plexus injury that is caused by physical force during labor. During birth, if the baby’s neck is overstretched, this can cause damage to the cranial nerves in the neck, which are responsible for the feeling and movement of the baby’s arms and hands. Symptoms of Erb’s palsy include a limp arm, decreased ability for the baby to grip objects and loss of motor function in that arm. Treatments can range from surgery to physical therapy.
Facial Paralysis: Increased pressure on a baby’s face during birth can result in facial paralysis. This is common when forceps are used to help deliver a baby, but it can result in injury to the facial nerve. You can see the symptoms of facial paralysis when the baby cries because one side of the face will not move and the eye will not close. If the nerve was only bruised, the paralysis should heal within a few weeks, but if the nerve was torn, surgery may be required to treat it.
Brain Damage: One of the most serious birth injuries is brain damage. There are different kinds of brain damage that can occur, but most of the time, the injury is permanent and will result in neurological issues throughout the baby’s life. Brain damage is most commonly caused by lack of oxygen to the baby during birth, but it can also be caused by untreated maternal infections, jaundice in the infant or physical trauma to the baby during birth. Symptoms of brain damage are sometimes not apparent for months or even years but can include abnormal temperament, developmental delays, and abnormal physical appearance.
Is Your Child Showing Signs of a Birth Injury?
Birth injuries can affect a child’s growth and development and can be devastating news to parents. If your child is showing signs of a birth injury, you should contact a skilled and compassionate Aurora birth injury attorney right away. Kinnally Flaherty Krentz Loran Hodge & Masur P.C. has a strong track record of settling multiple medical malpractice cases and can help you fight for rightful compensation. To schedule a free consultation, call the office at 630-907-0909.