What Are Birth Injuries, and What Causes Them?

Published on June 22nd, 2019

What Are Birth Injuries, and What Causes Them?The arrival of a newborn is a joyous occasion when most new parents leave the hospital with a healthy addition to their family. Yet, when parents have to stay at their newborn’s side because of birth injury, joy can easily turn to distress. Birth injuries might occur because of a variety of things which happen during pregnancy, labor, or delivery; and, they might be a result of genetics. When mothers have followed their obstetrician’s guidelines and avoided physical trauma during their pregnancy, negligent medical professionals are often responsible for birth injuries.

Learning your baby’s birth injury was preventable adds more emotional anguish on top of the injury. When medical malpractice has resulted in the injury of your newborn, Michigan law entitles you to seek compensation for damages in civil court. Contact the experienced and compassionate birth injury attorneys at Thurswell Law at (248) 354-2222 for a free consultation to learn how we can help you during this difficult time.

Common Childbirth Injuries

Any physical or developmental damage to an infant as a result of childbirth falls under the umbrella of a birth injury. Stanford Children’s Health reports the most frequent birth injuries:

  • Cerebral palsy (CP) is a result of brain damage from pregnancy, labor, or birth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report it as the most common motor disability in children.
  • Caput succedaneum occurs most often when a doctor must extract a fetus with a vacuum during birth. This head trauma is characterized by swelling of the scalp and might lead to bruising.
  • Cephalohematoma appears as a lump on a newborn’s head, which occurs because of bleeding underneath one of the bones of the cranium. Most cephalohematomas disappear within a few months as the body reabsorbs the blood.
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhages refer to the breakage of small blood vessels in a baby’s eyes, and is common among newborns. Parents can see this bleeding in the white part of the eye, which typically goes away within two weeks.
  • Brachial plexus palsy, also called Erb’s Palsy, is the loss of movement in one or both shoulders of a newborn. Most babies need corrective surgery by age one for this injury typically caused by a doctor forcing a newborn through the birth canal.
  • Facial paralysis can occur when doctors misuse birthing tools and apply too much pressure to a baby’s face, tearing facial nerves. Depending on the extent of the tear, facial paralysis might be permanent or temporary.
  • Fractured bones cause additional pain and stress to newborns. Breech babies risk broken bones, especially broken collarbones. Other fractures might occur if the newborn gets stuck in a mother’s pelvis during delivery.
  • Spinal cord damage might occur during a breech delivery, or when a doctor causes a blunt force trauma when using delivery tools. A cut or tear to the spinal cord can cause loss of multiple bodily functions. Exact issues depend on where the cord was damaged.
  • Medication injuries occur when a medical professional incorrectly administers an epidural or other medication during labor and delivery. Infants might suffer a brain injury, a stroke, or a coma.

Pregnancy Complications Can Cause Birth Injuries

Most birth injuries happen during labor or delivery, but complications during pregnancy can also cause distress to a fetus. Doctors have a duty to recognize symptoms and diagnose pregnancy complications to avoid injury, miscarriage, or stillbirth. Common pregnancy complications which might result in a birth injury include:

  • Placenta previa. Pregnant women who experience heavy bleeding might have placenta previa, a condition where the placenta partially or fully covers the cervix. Failure to diagnose and treat placenta previa might lead to more severe conditions, such as a placental abruption.
  • Placental abruption. A placental abruption occurs when a woman’s placenta fully or partially separates from the uterine wall prior to birth. This is especially dangerous to the fetus, who loses nutrients and oxygen. An untreated placental abruption can lead to the death of the fetus and mother.
  • Preeclampsia.This is one of the most common pregnancy complications, characterized by high blood pressure. Untreated preeclampsia can result in liver damage and kidney damage. Doctors monitor preeclampsia by screening protein levels in the mother’s urine. When levels are too high, doctors must immediately deliver the baby to avoid injury or death.

Medical Negligence and Birth Injuries

Discussing common birth injuries and pregnancy complications revealed some examples of how medical negligence can lead to a birth injury. Unfortunately, many types of action or inaction during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, might lead to a birth injury. They include:

  • Inadequate prenatal care
  • Failure to perform proper tests during pregnancy
  • Failure to diagnose and treat fetal distress
  • Improper administration of medication and/or an epidural
  • Failure to perform a cesarean section
  • Improper use of birthing tools including forceps and extraction vacuums
  • Failure to monitor vital signs and oxygen levels of a fetus during labor and delivery
  • Starving a fetus of nutrients by cutting the umbilical cord too soon

Hire an Experienced Michigan Birth Injury Attorney Today

Medical professionals involved with bringing a new life into the world have a duty to provide a standard of care during pregnancy, birth, and beyond. When doctors fail to meet that standard, the might be liable for a newborn’s birth injury. An experienced birth injury attorney can evaluate the facts of your case and help determine liability if you are unsure about the extent to which neglect led to your baby’s birth injury.

Seeing your baby or child struggle with simple milestones and experience pain as a result of medical negligence can devastate families. No amount of money will undo the past or guarantee your child has a full recovery, but compensation can help offset lost wages and additional medical expenses related to the birth injury and hospitalization. You and your family deserve fair compensation for your economic and non-economic losses. Let the experienced legal team at Thurswell Law handle the details of your case, while you focus on helping your baby recover. Contact us at Thurswell Law online or call (248) 354-2222 to discuss the details of your baby’s birth injury and determine your next steps.

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