Birth injuries are tragic and traumatic for parents, the child, and the whole family. Compared to the number of healthy live births in the United States, those children born with injuries are a small percentage. Improved medical devices and practices have reduced the number of birth injuries and can go a long way to preventing future birth injuries.
For example, clinicians use electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) and ultrasound equipment to visualize the fetus to confirm that the unborn child is moving, breathing, and posturing properly and to evaluate the amniotic fluid and monitor the laboring mother’s contractions. All of this information is used to detect signs of fetal distress including hypoxia, which is the lack of oxygen, and ischemia, which is the lack of blood flow.
If there is a detection of non-reassuring fetal heart tones or indications of over stimulation of the uterus during the early stages of labor then the fetal environment can become threatening and very dangerous. When the fetus is endangered the risk of neurological damage, asphyxiation, and other birth injuries increases.
Cerebral palsy is a type of neurological damage and there is no known cure. Some of the contributing causes of cerebral palsy are asphyxia, hypoxia of the brain, and birth trauma. Medical intervention for cerebral palsy is limited to treatment and prevention of complications that arise in labor and delivery. The prevalence of cerebral palsy as a result of birth injury in the United States is estimated to be about 2.4 out of 1,000 children. About 10,000 infants and babies are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year in the United States.
Injuries to the newborn can also be the result of mechanical forces. For example, in a difficulty delivery the health care staff may need to use force to deliver the baby. This could result in a stretching or avulsion of the brachial plexus nerves that could lead to a diagnosis of shoulder dystocia or even Erb’s palsy.
Half of all the potentially harmful deliveries are avoidable with recognition and anticipation of the obstetric risk factors. Birth injuries could be avoided when clinicians respond to non-reassuring and/or indeterminate fetal heart tracings as to the time of delivery. Decisive steps by the medical providers must follow in the face of abnormal or worrisome conditions.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois medical malpractice and Cook County birth injury malpractice for over 30 years, serving areas such as Orland Park, Wheeling, Glenview and Chicago Heights.