A birth injury is any type of injury to a child during childbirth, usually as the child moves through the birth canal. Most infants sustain minor injuries during birth due to the natural forces and pressure of labor and delivery.
Unfortunately, newborns can also suffer more serious birth injuries such as fractures, nerve injuries, and brain injuries during birth. While not all birth injuries are avoidable, sometimes medical negligence is to blame.
When a physician, nurse, or other medical professional gives substandard care, fails to take appropriate action, or does not recognize signs of distress in the mother or infant, they may be responsible for a child’s injuries.
One of the most serious conditions that can result from a birth injury is cerebral palsy, a group of neurological disorders that can affect a child for his or her entire life.
Cerebral palsy is caused by an injury or abnormal development of the region of the brain that controls movement. CP may be the result of abnormal development, damage to the brain before or after birth, a stroke in utero, or a lack of oxygen to the brain, for example. While many cases of cerebral palsy are unavoidable or have an unknown cause, there are many ways in which birth injuries can be directly attributed to cerebral palsy.
Forceps is a medical instrument that is used to help facilitate birth. When used incorrectly, injury to the brain during a forceps delivery may cause cerebral palsy as can complicated labor and delivery that causes low oxygen to the brain or too much pressure on the brain.
Not all birth injuries happen at birth; they may also happen during pregnancy or just after birth. There are many ways in which a preventable brain injury can lead to cerebral palsy. Some of the most common birth injuries that may be responsible for cerebral palsy include:
Failing to respond to fetal distress in a timely manner. Signs of fetal distress like an abnormal heart rate and decreased movement need to be addressed immediately to prevent brain damage due to oxygen deprivation.
Failing to respond to signs of oxygen deprivation. Severe oxygen deprivation to the brain is a common cause of cerebral palsy. Physicians have a duty to monitor the conditions of the mother and child during labor and recognize then respond to signs of oxygen deprivation in a timely manner.
Failing to recommend or offer a C-section in a timely manner. A difficult and prolonged labor can compress the baby’s brain in the birth canal or cut off the supply of oxygen to the brain.
Failing to diagnose, treat, or prevent an infection during pregnancy. While any infection in a pregnant mother that causes a high fever can lead to cerebral palsy, the risk is higher with some infections like rubella and chickenpox.
Incorrect use of forceps or vacuum extraction. These devices, when used improperly, can cause too much pressure on the baby’s brain.
Not all birth injuries are considered medical malpractice, even when the injuries lead to cerebral palsy. Medical malpractice occurs when a hospital, doctor, or medical professional acts with negligence and causes an injury to the child. While the vast majority of medical professionals are caring and exercise due diligence, sometimes negligence does occur that has life-changing implications.
If you believe your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by negligence on the part of someone on your medical team, you have rights. The Johnson City birth injury attorneys at The Haynes Firm can help you explore your legal options to seek fair compensation to pay for your child’s long-term medical needs and give them the best possible future.
Contact The Haynes Firm at (423)451-4999to discuss your medical malpractice case.