ERNST & YOUNG
Most families enjoy welcoming a new child into the world. Sometimes, that joyous occasion comes with challenges. Thousands of parents find their new baby has suffered from birth injury. This can turn their plans upside down. It is heartbreaking to know what sometimes, that birth injury could have been prevented.
What is Birth Injury?
Some children are physically hurt during the birth process. There are many reasons for this, from the baby's size to failures of the medical team. Some types of birth injury get better within a few days, but others have long-term effects for the baby. Those injuries in particular can pose new challenges for families who want to provide the best possible life for their children.
Types of Birth Injury
Many injuries can happen during the birth process. There are risk factors for many of these conditions, of which a medical team should be aware. They should also take specific precautions to prevent injury, given each mother's individual medical history and any known circumstances that arose during the pregnancy.
Brachial Plexus Injuries
The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that form part of the upper arm and shoulder. Damage to, or strain on, these nerves can result in paralysis of the arm. This paralysis is known as Erb's Palsy. This happens when the baby's arm gets caught in the wall of the pelvis during birth, an event known as shoulder dystocia.
Some children with BPI also experience respiratory distress due to phrenic nerve injury and diaphragmatic paralysis. This is the result of the hyperextension of the baby's neck and injury to the nerve that goes to the diaphragm.
Pressure placed on the baby's head, including the facial nerve, can cause paralysis. This may get better on its own. The baby may appear lopsided in its facial features. The pressure that causes facial paralysis may be the result of where the baby was positioned during birth, or the use of medical instruments during delivery.
Babies may experience bone fractures during birth. Fracture of the collarbone happens in an estimated 1 to 2 percent of births, which means it is fairly common. This tends to get better on its own. Other parents may learn their child has fractured and arm or leg bone, which requires further treatment and medical intervention.
One of the most frightening thing for a parent is to see is that their baby is pale at the time of birth and does not appear to thrive. This may be the result of a lack of blood flow or oxygen to the baby just before, or during, the time of birth. Asphyxia has a number of causes, but requires immediate intervention. Children who experience asphyxia may grow up with no negative effects, or they may have learning delays or develop conditions such as cerebral palsy.
Head and Brain Injuries
Many head injuries that happen during birth are quite common. The scalp may bruise, and there may be scratches on the baby's skin and scalp. More troubling, and less common, injuries include intercranial hemorrhages. This is bleeding in and around the brain. A baby may or may not show symptoms of bleeding. A child with this condition may have to stay in the hospital's NICU unit for further treatment.
Cerebral palsy can result from a lack of oxygen at the time of birth. The condition is not a disease, but rather a group of symptoms that affect muscle movements. About 1 or 2 in every 1,000 children have cerebral palsy, but that number increases to 15 out of every 100 premature babies. Children who experience perinatal asphyxia may develop cerebral palsy.
What Can Families Do?
Families have many resources to help the connect to other parents and caregivers. There are online and offline support groups that help families to find medical and social supports for themselves and their children. Often, the best counsel for families of children with birth injury comes from others with similar experience.
Knowing a child has experienced birth injury can make it difficult for parents to trust doctors. That's particularly the case if they feel they don't know the whole story about what happened to lead to their child's condition. A personal injury lawyer can help families fill in the gaps by going through the child's medical history to discover what might have occured.
Are There Legal Options?
Families can speak to a lawyer about their legal options. If their child's birth injury was the result of a medical mistake, they may wany to take legal action to stop something similar from happening to others. In addition, a settlement may give them the means to provide for their child now and into the future.
The team at Weltchek, Mallahan Weltchek Trial Lawyers can help. The firm has won multi-million dollar cases in the health sector and against large corporations. They have the expertise and compassion to work on behalf of families in Maryland affected by birth injury. To learn more, contact the firm today.