The birth of your child is a milestone moment you will never forget. But while every parent hopes that their child’s birth will be smooth and free of complications, medical complications do sometimes occur. As it turns out, every year 7 out of every 1,000 newborn babies in the United States will suffer a birth injury. More than 30,000 birth injuries happen annually in the U.S. The number one cause of birth injuries in New York is medical malpractice. Other factors may be nutritional, biological, or environmental in nature. More severe types of birth injuries can cause permanent damage, including brain damage, bone damage, muscle and nerve damage, and under the worst of conditions, death.
If you have had a baby born with an injury, the healthcare professional you have entrusted your delivery with may be responsible. An experienced New York birth injury attorney can help you figure out if you have a case that might lead to compensation.
What Is a Birth Injury?
Birth injuries can happen before childbirth, during childbirth, or after the baby is born. A birth injury is basically any injury suffered by the baby during the delivery process. In the U.S., physical trauma that is not due to a congenital problem affects around 2% of live births.
Birth injuries more commonly occur in babies who are larger than the average size. These infants are often larger than the pelvic area of the mother. The doctor is forced to use hands, forceps, or a vacuum extractor to help the baby get out. This situation is often more likely to cause neonatal injuries as a result of the negligence of the doctor or other medical professional.
11 Common Types of Birth Injuries
Although many types of birth injuries exist, the most common birth injuries are as follows:
1. Oxygen Deprivation
During delivery, oxygen deprivation (perinatal asphyxia) can cause brain injuries which, in turn, can cause chronic seizures or cerebral palsy. When the medical provider fails to keep an eye on the baby during and after delivery, or lets the baby stay too long in the birth canal, brain injuries can occur. Physical issues and intellectual disabilities might be the lasting impact of even less severe oxygen deprivation.
In some instances, the doctor has no choice but to deliver the child with the help of forceps. But this instrument can cause bruises on the baby and may even cause nerve and brain damage if not properly handled.
3. Spinal Cord Injuries
Very severe spinal cord injuries sometimes occur at birth and are normally caused by a meningeal tear or incorrect use of forceps. If your baby suffers spinal cord injuries, he or she may develop neurological problems and/or paralysis.
4. Bone Fractures
Since babies’ bones have more cartilage than those of adults, they are more flexible and hence likely to fracture during a stressful birth. When the doctor/medical professional does not use birth instruments properly, bone fractures may occur and cause damaged collarbones.
5. Brachial Plexus
Brachial plexus involves nerve damage that goes from the upper part of the spine to the shoulder, neck, arm, and hand. The damage may be short-lived or may cause permanent disability.
The mildest cases of brachial plexus involve nerve stretching, while more serious forms involve ruptured or torn nerves that do not heal properly. In very severe cases, full paralysis occurs when the roots of the nerves are completely shifted from the spine.
6. Cerebral Palsy
This is a serious medical disorder that affects about 1 out of every 3,000 babies born in the United States today. This condition causes a variety of problems, such as poor motor control, delayed motor development, problems with hearing or vision, muscle spasms, and learning problems. It is a lifelong disorder.
7. Erb’s Palsy
When the baby’s shoulder nerves suffer trauma, this may cause Erb’s palsy. Common symptoms of Erb’s palsy include trouble moving the shoulders or arms, lack of reflexes, and arms bent inwards toward the body. This injury often results from a medical professional pulling on a baby’s arm during delivery.
8. Facial Paralysis
During delivery, some babies may suffer damage to their facial nerve, also known as the 7th cranial nerve. This damage may vary in severity and lead to various problems, including muscle weakness and complete facial paralysis on the side of the baby’s head.
While the cause of facial paralysis is often difficult to pinpoint or is unknown, it may sometimes result from prolonged labor, incorrect use of forceps or the child is unusually large.
9. Caput Succedaneum
Caput Succedaneum manifests as scalp swelling and a part of the scalp might appear discolored or bruised. This injury is typically caused by severe pressure during birth. Like most types of birth injuries, it is not life-threatening and usually heals by itself.
Normally caused by vacuum extraction or prolonged labor, cephalohematoma is a hemorrhage that occurs between the baby’s brain and skull. It can be a sign of a fracture in the skull and usually occurs within a few hours of a mother giving birth. Cephalohematoma may lead to health complications such as anemia, jaundice, low blood pressure, and an increased risk of meningitis as well as other conditions.
11. Subconjunctival Hemorrhage
During delivery, blood vessels in a baby’s eyes can rupture, making the whites of the eyes to get partially or fully red. While startling, the problem should naturally resolve itself. After birth, subconjunctival hemorrhage can be a sign of trauma like shaken baby syndrome.
Contact Our Experienced Birth Injury Attorney
If your baby has sustained a birth injury that you believe is the fault of your medical provider, it is important to consult the attorneys at Halperin & Halperin, P.C right away.
One of our lawyers can review your case and decide whether the treating medical provider(s) failed to acknowledge and address fetal distress, failed to properly diagnose a condition, or did not properly use delivery instruments.
Our lawyers have over 40 years’ experience representing victims of birth injury throughout New York. Contact us right away at (212) 935-2600 or send us an email on the Contact Us page of our website for more information about your legal options.