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What Happens When a Baby Suffers a Birth Injury?

by The Beasley Firm  |  January 3, 2019  |  

The moment individuals find out they are going to have a child should be one of joy and happiness. They often think about life moving forward and prepare for whatever comes next. This is what it is supposed to be, and today’s medical technology has the ability to make that happen. That, of course, assumes that the health care providers are doing their job.

What happens when the negligence is caused by a trusted professional such as an obstetrician or midwife? Knowing the lifelong impact of a birth injury is important to not only taking legal action, but also understanding what is necessary in terms of treatment and ways of living a normal lifestyle.

What Are Some of the Most Common Avoidable Birth Injuries?

There are various injuries that may be caused as a result of negligence by a doctor or midwife; however, they can be caused by many different situations, as well as at different stages of the pregnancy or labor. Understanding some of these injuries and how they are caused is very important.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a diagnosis resulting, in many circumstances, from hypoxia (low oxygen) during labor and delivery. Other situations that can cause this sort of brain damage come from meningitis, low blood sugars after delivery, and high bilirubin levels. These preventable conditions stem from neglect in the prenatal, intrapartum, or neonatal phases of a child’s progress.

During labor and delivery, one of the many important steps for a doctor or midwife to take is to ensure they are properly monitoring fetal heartbeat. This can help them detect deceleration, slow heartbeat, or fast heartbeat, which may be a sign of a serious condition, and they can take the necessary emergency action to help the baby and mother.

Infections such as group B strep are supposed to be checked prenatally at appropriate intervals, and if so antibiotics are required to control this bacteria. When physicians or midwives fail to give antibiotics for this completely preventable infection, the fetus can be devastated.

Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy

This is a condition also referred to as birth asphyxia, perinatal asphyxia, perinatal encephalopathy, and newborn brain injury. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy consists of various different factors, including:

  • Lack of oxygen to the tissues and organs
  • Blood and oxygen flow restriction
  • Brain injury caused by the restricted blood and oxygen

Typically, HIE is also a result of other conditions that can occur during the labor or delivery of a baby, including eclampsia, high blood pressure, abdominal trauma, maternal seizures, and prolapsed umbilical cord. Monitoring the delivery and labor is very important.

Placental Abruption

This isn’t the most common condition, as some believe it occurs in roughly 9 out of every 1,000 births. It occurs when the placenta is either separated—partially or completely—from the inner uterus wall during the delivery of the baby.

One of the potential issues that can occur is a lack of oxygen and nutrients to the baby. It is a sudden situation and, if it is untreated, both the baby and mother can be harmed. Some of the signs to look out for include abdominal pain, uterine tenderness or contractions, back pain, and vaginal bleeding.

What are Some of the Long-Term Effects of a Birth Injury?

When a baby suffers a birth injury, there are a number of both physical and mental damages that may be sustained. It is important to recognize not only the effects, but also ways that the symptoms can be treated or helped so the baby can live as normal a life as possible.

Physical damages can be devastating. Children may be paralyzed. They may not be able to speak. They may have intractable seizures. They may not be able to control their secretions, resulting in a high risk for pneumonia. These children require constant care and attention; a requirement too consuming for the parents. Outside, expensive nursing or other care is mandatory to ensure the child’s safety.

Some of the more damaging effects come in the form of mental and developmental issues. Lack of oxygen can impact the brain in a significant manner, making it difficult for children to develop at the same rate as other kids when it comes to cognitive abilities.

Reading and writing may be impossible or difficult. They may have changes in behavior, as well as challenges when it comes to academic needs. However, if the condition is detected quickly and intervention is done in a timely manner, the doctor may be able to limit the emotional effects of a birth injury.

Does a Mother Feel the Impact as Well?

Depending on the situation, the mother may be susceptible to the physical and emotional pain of a birth injury. Some situations may cause the mother physical harm such as excessive bleeding, high blood pressure, and more.

Emotionally, this could be a traumatic experience for mothers who endure the unnecessary pain of the situation. This could lead to depressive behavior requiring therapy or medication for an extended time period after the baby’s birth.

What Can Be Done to Help the Family?

After a birth injury, one of the most important things is for the family to recognize whether or not negligence played a role in causing the situation. For instance, was the doctor accurate in their monitoring of the fetus throughout the pregnancy?

If it is shown that the obstetrician or another medical professional was at all negligent at any time during the pregnancy, labor, or delivery, they may be held financially accountable for the damages sustained by either the mother or baby—or both.

While money may not seem like the answer, it’s important to note that birth injuries often require extensive healthcare long after the injury occurs. Families should not have to endure the financial hardships when the situation is caused by someone else.

Seeking compensation puts families in a position to recover the money they may need to cover past and future medical expenses, therapy for physical and emotional damages, and any other expenses associated with the birth injury.

Before moving forward, though, you should speak with a lawyer who recognizes negligence and can help explain your rights and options moving forward. Having a legal representative helps you file the necessary lawsuit against the party responsible for the birth injury in a timely and accurate manner, as well as protect your rights from the large corporation and legal teams you may be up against.

At The Beasley Firm, we have over fifty years’ experience representing the most critically injured children and ensuring the child, and the family, are made as whole as possible. We have fought for families to get funding for a home that meets the child’s needs.

After obtaining a substantial recovery for the child and sometimes the parents, we assist in getting the right attorneys to establish a special needs trust so that the state and federal benefits continue. We assist in getting the necessary vehicles so that the family and / or care providers can safely transport the child.

Dealing with developmental issues and physical pain from someone else’s negligence is not something you should have to accept, and we’re here to help.

Our Philadelphia birth injury attorneys are truly committed to helping families in their times of need. We know that this is a serious situation and you need serious advocacy on your side. We take the time to determine what negligence may have existed, gather the evidence you need to hold the liable party accountable, and stand in your corner every step of the way.

The best interest of you and your family is our top priority. We don’t take medical negligence lightly and we go the extra mile because your family relies on it.

Call our firm today for a free consultation and speak with our skilled team about your potential case. We’re ready to stand up for your rights from start to finish.

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