It’s important that a woman receives adequate care and treatment during her pregnancy and, later, during her labor and delivery.
The failure to provide this standard of care may result in a birth injury for the mother and her child.
While some birth injuries resolve on their own in days to weeks, others can last the remainder of the child’s life.
Below, our Philadelphia personal injury attorneys discuss the common warning signs of a birth injury.
Common Types of Birth Injuries
Birth injuries often result from two main factors: oxygen deprivation and physical damage.
Birth injuries resulting from oxygen deprivation are more likely to affect a child’s nervous system, while those resulting from physical damage are more likely to cause physical disabilities.
Birth injuries that often result from oxygen deprivation include, but are not limited to, the following:
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affects coordination and movement. CP is often caused by hypoxia (a lack of oxygen to the brain) or anoxia (no oxygen to the brain) during the labor and delivery process.
Any labor longer than 18 hours is considered long and, at this point, the pressure exerted on an infant’s brain may lead to oxygen deprivation and a subsequent injury, such as CP.
It’s important for healthcare providers to take the following measures once a woman’s labor reaches a longer stage:
Monitor the infant for signs of distress
Order a C-section when necessary
Failure to do so may result in the development of CP, which is characterized by one or more of the following:
Spastic diplegia, which results in stiff movements
Athetoid, which results in loss of movement control
Ataxic, which results in balance and depth perception issues
During the labor and delivery process, the warning signs that CP may occur include the following:
Deceleration of an infant’s heartbeat
Once the child is born, the following red flags may demonstrate the child acquired CP during the birth:
Poor muscle control
An inability for the baby to hold up his or her head while lying down
Hypoxic Brain Damage
Hypoxic brain damage, also known as Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), is a serious birth injury that often results from oxygen deprivation during the birthing process.
During a woman’s labor and delivery, there are several red flags that tell a healthcare provider the baby is at risk of oxygen deprivation, including the following:
High blood pressure
High uterine pressures
Hyperstimulation of the uterus
Prolapsed/compressed umbilical cord
If the attending healthcare provider does not know to look for the aforementioned warning signs or does not monitor a woman and her child during the labor and delivery process, the baby may suffer from HIE.
Once born, a baby who has HIE may demonstrate the following symptoms:
Inability to swallow or eat
Inability to crawl or walk
Aside from birth injuries caused by oxygen deprivation, there are also several birth injuries that may result from physical damage to the newborn during the birthing process. These injuries may include the following:
Shoulder Dystocia and Erb’s Palsy
Physical injuries, such as Erb’s palsy, may result from a difficult labor where the child’s shoulders are lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bones.
In this situation, it is up to healthcare providers to extract the child from the mother’s birth canal carefully. Failure to do so may result in serious injuries to the nerves in the child’s arm and a subsequent injury.
The following warning signs during the birthing process indicate a child is at risk of shoulder dystocia:
Healthcare providers should be able to recognize these warning signs and take the appropriate action to mitigate the situation, including:
Reposition the mother’s legs to widen the birth canal
Apply gentle pressure to the mother’s abdomen
Attempt to rotate the baby gently
Perform a C-section
If the healthcare provider does not perform the aforementioned actions successfully, or uses birth assistance tools incorrectly, the child may suffer damage to his or her brachial plexus nerves and acquire a permanent injury.
After a baby is born, the warning signs of shoulder dystocia or Erb’s palsy include the following:
Paralysis of the arms and hands
Droopy eyelids and uneven pupils
Holding the arm close to the body with the palm facing backward
Can You Cure a Birth Injury?
Some birth injuries may resolve on their own in days to weeks. Others, like CP and HIE, will last the remainder of the child’s life, often with serious effects.
Certain treatments, including surgeries, medications, and therapies, may help improve some of the child’s symptoms. However, it is rare for a serious birth injury to resolve completely. This may result in hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in expenses for birth injury victims and their families.
Recovering Compensation for a Birth Injury
Unlike birth defects, many birth injuries are preventable. These unfortunate, avoidable injuries affect 28,000 babies per year in the United States—often at the hands of professionals who should have known better.
As such, it’s not fair for families to foot the bill for their child’s treatment when their injury never should have happened in the first place.
With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, you may be able to recover the following damages from any and all liable parties:
Past and future medical bills
Past and future lost wages
Pain and suffering
Loss of enjoyment of life
When considering pursuing a birth injury claim, it’s important to remember that you only have a certain period of time to do so. This time limit, known as the statute of limitations, varies from state to state.
In Pennsylvania, you have two years from the date the injury took place or was discovered to file a claim.
Suspect a Birth Injury? Contact Us Today
Few things are more devastating than knowing your child suffered an injury during the birthing process. At The Beasley Firm, LLC, we make it our mission to help birth injury victims recover the compensation they deserve to obtain the medical treatment they need.
We have a track record of success in doing so. Our firm has successfully litigated birth injury cases in this state since 1958. We have secured hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for children who need lifelong care.
Together, we secured two of the top medical negligence verdicts in the history of Pennsylvania, with recoveries of $100 million and $55 million.
In short, we’re who you want on your team during this process. We will fight for your rights like no other firm will.
Contact The Beasley Firm, LLC at (215) 866-2424 to schedule a free consultation with our team today.