A happy and healthy baby is all any expectant parent hopes for. Unfortunately, thousands of newborns suffer serious birth-related injuries every year, many of which are entirely preventable.
The emotional and financial strains that often accompany birth injuries can leave parents scrambling to do what’s best for their family with painfully limited resources. If your child sustained a birth injury due to suspected medical errors, you might be entitled to compensation that can help relieve the financial stresses of the situation.
At The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates, our principal attorney, Michael Wilson, is both an attorney and a physician. That means Dr. Wilson has unique insights into the legal and medical aspects of malpractice. He is prepared to aggressively pursue the compensation your family needs.
To learn more about whether you could be eligible for financial compensation, contact us today to get started with a free initial consultation.
What Are the Most Common Birth Injuries in Newborns?
Birth injuries can occur due to physical trauma or untreated illnesses before, during, or after birth. Although many common birth injuries are relatively minor and heal on their own over time, certain other injuries can have severe and potentially life-threatening consequences.
Here are some of the most common birth injuries in newborns:
- Cerebral palsy – Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder that impairs a person’s motor function, balance, and posture. Infants may develop cerebral palsy due to oxygen deprivation or head trauma during delivery.
- Facial paralysis – Facial paralysis, or the inability to move one or both sides of the face, can occur when a facial nerve or nerves are damaged because of too much pressure during delivery.
- Oxygen deprivation – Providers are responsible for monitoring fetal oxygen levels before, during, and after delivery. Even a mild lack of oxygen can cause infant brain damage, which may result in cognitive and physical disabilities.
- Cephalohematoma – A cephalohematoma occurs when excess blood accumulates beneath the scalp and can result in hypotension, anemia, or jaundice. That can happen when forceps or other delivery instruments cause cranial blood vessels to rupture.
- Brachial plexus injuries – The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that transmits signals from the brain to the arms. Plexus injuries, which may result in permanent disability, can occur when the infant’s head and shoulder are stretched too far during delivery, damaging the nerves.
- Fractured collarbones – Collarbone or clavicle fractures can occur when the infant’s shoulder gets stuck during delivery. Although these broken bones can heal with time, infants may need to be immobilized for weeks or months.
- Perinatal asphyxia – Perinatal asphyxia occurs when the infant does not receive enough oxygen before, during, or after labor or delivery. Insufficient oxygen can result in brain damage, seizures, shock, or coma.
- Caput succedaneum – Caput succedaneum is swelling in the infant’s scalp caused by excessive pressure on the head during delivery from the vaginal wall or improper use of forceps or vacuum extractors.
- Subgaleal hemorrhage – This hemorrhage or hematoma occurs when excess blood accumulates outside the infant’s skull. This dangerous condition frequently happens as a result of vacuum-assisted delivery.
- Spinal cord injuries – Birth-related spinal cord injuries are relatively rare complications that can occur when providers pull or twist an infant’s neck too forcefully during delivery. That can result in permanent paralysis and life-changing cognitive problems.
What Causes Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries occur most frequently when:
- The infant is large.
- The infant is born prematurely.
- The infant’s head is too large to fit through the mother’s pelvis.
- The mother experiences “dystocia” or difficult labor.
- The mother experiences prolonged labor.
- The infant’s presentation is abnormal, such as buttocks or feet first.
- The mother requires a Caesarean section (C-section) to deliver.
- The mother is very overweight or obese.
- Providers use delivery instruments, such as vacuum extractors or forceps.
- Providers fail to diagnose or detect maternal infections or other risk factors.
- Providers fail to perform C-sections when needed.
- Providers prescribe potentially harmful medications to mothers or infants.
Although some risks are unavoidable, medical professionals are responsible for recognizing risk factors and adjusting their care accordingly. When providers fail to observe accepted standards of care during labor and delivery, their actions or failure to act can result in severe and potentially fatal birth injuries.
How Common Are Birth Injuries?
According to data published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI):
- The rate of birth-related injuries decreased from 2.6 injuries in every 1,000 live births to 1.9 injuries in every 1,000 live births during a recent eight-year period.
- Cephalohematoma, which occurs in roughly 2.5 percent of all live births, is more common when providers use vacuum extractors or forceps as delivery aids.
- The use of extractors or forceps during delivery is also the most common cause of subgaleal hemorrhage, which occurs in roughly 4 in 10,000 spontaneous vaginal deliveries and 59 in 10,000 vacuum-assisted deliveries.
- The most commonly injured cranial nerve in difficult births is the facial nerve, which is injured in roughly 10 in every 1,000 live births.
- Brachial plexus injuries occur in roughly 2.5 in every 1,000 liv
- e births.
- The most common birth-related bone fracture is a clavicle fracture, which occurs in roughly 15 in every 1,000 live births.
- Spinal cord injuries are relatively rare, but when they do occur, they are typically caused by extreme pulling or twisting of the spinal cord during delivery.
Get Help from an Experienced Birth Injury Attorney
In addition to being emotionally devastating, a birth injury can create an overwhelming financial burden for parents. If your child’s birth injury was a preventable tragedy caused by medical malpractice, you have the right to seek fair compensation from a birth injury claim.
The money you could obtain from a successful claim can help cover your child’s medical expenses, your lost wages from missed time at work, and even the intangible costs of your family’s emotional suffering. A trusted medical malpractice attorney can assist you every step of the way to investigate suspected malpractice, prepare claim paperwork, and negotiate forcefully for the compensation your family deserves.
To learn more about your legal options, contact The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates today for a free initial case review.
Dr. Michael M. Wilson is an attorney and a physician who earned his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his legal and medical degrees from Georgetown University. He has focused in the area of medical malpractice for more than three decades and secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients throughout the country. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is listed in America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.