In the United States alone, about 4 million babies are born each year. The vast majority of babies grow to be happy and healthy. However, the number of birth injuries that take place in hospitals around the country remains alarmingly high.
Out of every 1,000 deliveries, 6 to 8 babies are born with a birth injury. That means there are roughly 30,000 birth injuries a year.
The consequences of a birth injury can be catastrophic to parents and children. Not only can a birth injury lead to permanent impairment, such as paralysis or disfigurement, but it can also lead to neonatal death.
Victims around the country have filed medical malpractice lawsuits against healthcare personnel or institutions to receive the compensation they deserve. Find out more about birth injuries and how a Maryland birth injury lawyer can help.
What is a Birth Injury?
Sometimes called birth trauma, a birth injury is a physical injury suffered during the birthing process. The injury can occur before, during, or after the birth itself.
Birth defects are often described separately from birth injuries. A birth defect is a problem that develops while the fetus is still in the womb. This can be something genetic like a heart murmur, Down syndrome, and sickle-cell anemia or something else like the age of the parents.
Birth injuries are sometimes defined more broadly by the legal community as an injury a baby suffers that was preventable. This could be preventable injuries caused while the mother is still pregnant. For example, a pregnant woman might be accidentally prescribed unsafe medication or a doctor may fail to notice or treat gestational diabetes. Both of these could lead to injuries, defects, or premature birth.
Birth Injury Symptoms
Depending on the type of birth injury, symptoms may manifest themselves in different ways. Some birth injuries are not noticeable while at the hospital. It may take years for some children to develop symptoms.
In either case, it is important to identify any birth injuries as soon as possible. Some birth injuries can increase in severity if left untreated. Symptoms are sometimes broken down by type. There are action symptoms, health symptoms, and physical symptoms. When many of these symptoms are observed together, it could indicate a problem.
Birth Injury Action Symptoms
- Crying And Arching Of The Back
- Excessive Drooling
- Light Sensitivity
- Difficulty Suckling, Eating, And Swallowing
Birth Injury Health Symptoms
- Low Heart Rate
- Little To No Weight Gain
- Vision Problems
- Hearing Loss
- Low Oxygen Levels
Birth Injury Physical Symptoms
- Dimples On The Back
- Muscle Stiffness
- Skull Fractures
- Bent Limbs
- Wear Movement
- Hairy Patch On The Back
Because symptoms can develop as a child grows, it is important to track a baby throughout its early life by checking for developmental milestones. What to Expect — the world’ best-known parenting brand — has a breakdown of the milestones you can expect in the first two years of a child’s life.2
Risk Factors for Birth Injuries
The birthing process is a fluid and sometimes complicated process that blends compression and contraction with movement and twisting. The natural process accompanied by certain factors can increase the risk of birth trauma.1
- Large Babies
- Instruments Used During Delivery
- Prolonged Or Rapid Labor
- First-Time Pregnancy
- Pelvic Abnormalities
- Low Birth Weight
- Large Fetal Head
- Fetal Abnormalities
Types of Birth Injuries
The types of birth injuries vary greatly. These are among the most common types of birth injuries that Maryland lawyers encounter.
Cerebral palsy is a group of movement, muscle tone, and posture disorders caused by damage to the developing brain. Signs and symptoms show up during early childhood. Symptoms can include stuff muscles, involuntary movements, delays in motor skills, difficulty walking, seizures, and more. There are different types of cerebral palsy.3
Some children may suffer from facial paralysis that results in the loss of muscle movement in the face. The most frequent cause is from a difficult delivery. The use of forceps during delivery is also a risk factor. Facial nerves can be temporarily or permanently damaged.
This is when there is bleeding beneath the cranial bones. According to Stanford Children’s Health, it can appear as a raised lump in the baby’s head several hours after birth.4 It will usually disappear on its own but will sometimes require a blood transfusion.
Fractures are also common birth injuries. The collarbone is most susceptible to fracture during breech deliveries as the baby may be in an awkward position. The legs, arms, and skull also have the potential to fracture.
Caput Succedaneum describes swelling under the scalp of a baby shortly after birth. The condition usually resolves itself in a few days but can increase the likelihood of developing jaundice.
Other birth injuries include:
- Oxygen Deprivation
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Erb’s Palsy
- Subconjunctival Hemorrhage
- Klumpke’s Palsy
How a Maryland Birth Injury Attorney Can Help
A birth injury can change lives forever, but the injuries suffered by babies are often preventable. When that’s the case, a parent may be able to file a lawsuit against a doctor or institution for medical malpractice.
A qualified personal injury attorney will be able to tell you whether you were the victim of negligence from a medical professional. Examples can include improper use of forceps or vacuum, failing to conduct specialized tests, failing to monitor the mother or baby, delaying the order of a C-section, and more.
Birth injury lawsuits can be long and complex, which is why it’s important to walk through the process with a lawyer.
Recoveries Birth Injury Lawyers Can Get You
When a baby suffers a birth injury that affects their life and everyone around them, the family may be eligible to receive monetary compensation from the negligent party. Damages cannot turn back time, but they can go toward covering medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Along with monetary compensation, filing a lawsuit helps prevent similar injuries from happening again by holding those who were negligent accountable.
Contact a Maryland birth injury attorney today to find out how to get the compensation you deserve and help stop preventable injuries.
- Nirupama Laroia, MBBS, MD. “Birth Trauma“, Medscape, https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/980112-overview#a1. Accessed April 17th, 2018.
- What to Expect. “BABY & TODDLER MILESTONES“, What to Expect, https://www.whattoexpect.com/milestones/. Accessed April 17th, 2018.
- UCP. “Fact Sheet“, United Cerebral Palsy, https://ucp.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/cp-fact-sheet.pdf. Accessed April 17th, 2018.
- Stanford Children’s Health. “Birth Injury“, Stanford Children’s Health, http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=birth-injury-90-P02340. Accessed April 17th, 2018.