Most often the birth of a child is the happiest time in a parent’s life. Unfortunately, complications can arise during both pregnancy and delivery and these problems may result in temporary or permanent injury to the baby. It has been estimated that for every 1000 babies born in the U.S., five will be injured during birth.
Birth injuries vary greatly – from very minor to being so severe that they can cause major brain injuries–even death.
When the harm was avoidable, it is important that the legal rights of both baby and parent are fully safeguarded.
A common case involves a doctor/obstetrician’s failure to correctly assess or respond to conditions, disorders, and complications during a woman’s pregnancy or delivery. For example, this type of case can include a doctor/obstetrician’s failure to recognize pregnancy disorders like hypertension, improper use of medical devices such as forceps or vacuum, failure to perform a necessary caesarian section, or improper assessment of a baby’s overall health in the womb. A lawsuit arising from these types of situations will usually include a medical malpractice claim against the physicians and other medical practitioners involved, and in some cases a claim against the hospital where the treatment or delivery took place.
As a result of a birth injury or defect, an infant may be afflicted with the following:
- Erbs Palsy
- Cerebral Palsy
- Mental Retardation
Cerebral Palsy: A medical condition caused by a permanent brain injury that occurs before, during, or shortly after birth. The primary characteristic of cerebral palsy is a lack of muscle control and movement. Cerebral palsy is not a progressive disease; however, the effects have been known to change over time. Although the cause of cerebral palsy is not known for certain, there is evidence that links it to both the health history of the mother and child, and accidents causing brain damage. The diagnosis of cerebral palsy is often made immediately after birth, but it can also be made later in childhood.
Cerebral palsy may cause a number of symptoms, including seizures, spasms, visual and hearing problems, hyperactivity, and learning disorders.
Erb’s Palsy, also known as Brachial Plexus Paralysis, is a condition which is mainly due to both trauma, can affect one or all of the five primary nerves that supply the movement and feeling to an arm. The paralysis can be partial or complete. The damage to each nerve can range from burising to tearing.
It is usually the result of delivery in shoulder dystocia. Shoulder dystocia is an obstetric emergency (1% of vaginal births) defined the the impaction of the baby’s anterior shoulder against the mother’s symphysis pubis. It is more common after an assisted vaginal delivery such as with forceps ventouse cap, etc. to deliver the baby. The maneuvers used to deliver the baby may increase the head-shoulder interval, stretching the ventral nerve roots of the cervical spine. In some cases it causes avulsions. The most common avulsion is Erb’s point, an area in the antereolateral neck (roughly corresponding to the roots C5 + 6) which damages the nerve roots of the brachial plexus supplying the ipsilateral upper limb & shoulder girdle. In some cases the C7 nerve root is also affected.
It is important to contact an attorney to discuss your legal rights when you feel your child may have suffered injury during the birth process.
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