For parents, a birth is a joyous occasion, but finding out your child is injured transforms the excitement into extreme concern. Six to eight out of 1,000 births result in significant injury; although some children recover, others require lifelong care.
Because of the great expense associated with follow-up surgeries, treatment, and care and states’ statute of limitations, parents are advised to pursue a lawsuit not long after learning about the injury. However, causes and the injuries resulting cover a wide range.
Damage During Birthing Process
Difficult child birth may cause certain injuries. Compression, traction, or forces restricting the blood vessels or oxygen may result in the birth canal. Similarly, a birth canal may be too small, or a child may be too large (over 8 pounds, 13 ounces) to pass through. Other factors may contribute:
- The mother has diabetes or cephalopelvic disproportion.
- The child was born before 37 weeks; premature children tend to have more fragile bones.
- Prolonged labor
- A child is positioned abnormally (feet first instead of head)
No matter how it occurs, oxygen deprivation results in injuries to the child. The condition stems from an umbilical cord that’s compressed, twisted, or wrapped around the child’s neck or from the fetus remaining in the birth canal too long.
Similarly, Meconium Aspiration Syndrome involves a child inhaling meconium and amniotic fluid and choking to death during the birth process. The presence of both indicates fetal stress before or after delivery.
While proper prenatal planning and having trained staff assists with reducing these risks, other factors contribute to a potential birth injury. In certain cases, medical staff may be negligent, careless, or intentionally act with malice, from waiting too long to perform a C-section to incorrect usage of forceps, vacuums, and other equipment to excessive force during the procedure.
For specific instances, negligence or malice significantly harm the child:
- Failure to diagnose or treat seizures after delivery
- Failure to properly monitor changes in the mother’s health, including high blood pressure and toxemia.
- Incorrect intubation for a child requiring oxygen results in oxygen deprivation that causes brain damage or death.
Common Birth Injuries
Several types of injuries may occur in birth, including the following:
- Caput succedaneum
- Traumatic brain injury
- Cerebral palsy
- Anoxic brain injury, which results from a lack of oxygen to the brain, even if sufficient blood flow is present
- Hypoxia, or the decrease of oxygen to tissue
- Shoulder dystocia
- Brachial Plexus
- Breech birth complications
- Brain damage
- Death or trauma related to medication dosage
- Injury from vacuum extraction
- Injury from an untimely caesarian section
- Nerve injury from forceps
- Meconian Aspiration Syndrome
- Broken or fractured bones
- Facial paralysis
- Spinal cord injury
- Bacterial infection
Although a child may recover from certain injuries, most are life-altering. In the case of brain damage or cerebral palsy, signs don’t start to show for few years, or when the child isn’t meeting growth and physical milestones. Many resulting conditions require significantly costly long-term care, medication, surgery, physical therapy, or special education.
Filing a Lawsuit
Winning a lawsuit against a negligent hospital or medical professional may result in an award to cover past and future medical expenses; pain and suffering; disability; disfigurement; loss of quality of life; and loss of future earnings.
Cases typically take from 18 months to two years. If you suspect medical malpractice, it’s advised that parents request the records from the hospital where the delivery was performed and then have a doctor review the information to perform tests on the child for possible mental or physical disabilities. From here, research what surgeries, treatments, or care and the costs that may be required.
After you’ve gone through these steps, get in contact with a lawyer. In Connecticut, law firm Trantolo & Trantolo handles birth injury lawsuits, as well as related medical malpractice claims.