What is Birth Injury?

What is Birth Injury?

During the delivery of a child, the baby may suffer a physical injury. This is called birth trauma or birth injury. Birth injuries are extremely traumatic for parents and families.

What Causes a Birth Injury?

Many obstetricians agree that a difficult birth or injury to the baby can occur due to the baby's large size or the position of the baby during delivery. The following conditions can contribute to birth injuries:

  • cephalopelvic disproportion - the size and shape of the mother's pelvis is not adequate so that the baby can be born vaginally
  • abnormal birthing presentation - such as breech (buttocks first) delivery of
  • large babies - birth weight over about (8 pounds, 13 ounces)
  • prematurity - babies born before 37 weeks
  • dystocia - difficult labor or childbirth
  • prolonged labor-- also known as “failure to progress,” this is when labor continues for more than 20 hours

What are Some of the More Common Birth Injuries?

Brain injury: Catastrophic injury occurs if the baby doesn't have enough oxygen. Prolonged oxygen deprivation can result in brain damage and neurological disorders, such as cerebral palsy, hypoxic ischemia injury, and epilepsy.

Caput succedaneum: Caput is a severe swelling of the soft tissues of the baby's scalp that develops as the baby travels down the birth canal. Babies delivered by vacuum extraction are more likely to have this condition.

Cephalohematoma: Cephalohematoma is an area of bleeding between the bone and its fibrous covering. It often appears several hours after birth as a raised lump on the baby's head. If the area of bleeding is large, some babies may develop jaundice as the red blood cells break down.

Bruising/forceps marks: Some babies may show signs of bruising on the face or head as a result of the trauma of passing though the birth canal and contact with the mother's pelvic bones and tissues. Babies delivered by vacuum extraction may have some scalp bruising or a scalp laceration.

Facial paralysis: During labor, pressure on a baby's face may cause the facial nerve to be injured. This may also occur with the use of forceps during delivery. If this injury occurs, there is no movement on the side of the face with the injury and the eye cannot be closed. If the nerve was only bruised, the paralysis usually improves in a few weeks. If the nerve was torn, surgery may be needed.

Brachial palsy: Brachial palsy occurs when the brachial plexus (the group of nerves that controls movement of the arms and hands) is injured. It is most common when there is difficulty delivering the baby's shoulder, called shoulder dystocia. The baby loses the ability to flex and rotate the arm. Tearing of the nerve may result in permanent nerve damage. Surgery may be needed to repair the damage.

In a medical malpractice case, the Kreisman Law Offices will prove that your medical provider acted negligently and that the negligence directly caused the birth injury. Usually, a birth injury results in significant damages because the child may require long-term medical treatment. His or her disabilities may be permanent, and the cost of medical care and rehabilitation are expensive.

Some medical errors in birth injury cases are:

  • Failure to recognize a high risk pregnancy, such as a breech position;
  • Failure to quickly diagnose and treat preterm labor;
  • Failure to appropriately respond to vaginal bleeding;
  • Failure to appropriately treat umbilical cord entrapment;
  • Failure to assess and treat fetal distress during delivery;
  • Delay in ordering of a timely Caesarian section, i.e. C-section;
  • Misuse of vacuum extraction or forceps during delivery;
  • Inappropriate administration of labor-inducing drugs;
  • Failure to appropriately treat gestational diabetes;
  • Choosing not to treat elevated maternal blood pressure.

A birth injury to your child is devastating. It is imperative that you have experienced lawyers on your side. With more than 40 years of experience in handling birth injury cases, the Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at the Kreisman Law Offices have the know-how and resources to aggressively handle your birth injury legal claim and obtain justice for you and your child. Contact our Chicago office at 312.346.0045 or 800.583.8002 for an immediate free consultation, or fill out a contact form.

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