Injuries suffered by infants during labor and delivery or shortly after birth may have life-long repercussions and costs. The joy families experience when a mother gives birth may give way to concern and confusion when babies suffer birth trauma resulting in injuries. While some injuries occur despite medical advances and patients receiving the appropriate monitoring and care, others result from mistakes or negligence on the part of the medical professionals entrusted with mothers’ and their infants’ care.
Common Birth Injuries
Babies may suffer a range of injuries from minor to catastrophic during or shortly after birth. Some of the most common birth injuries suffered by infants include muscle injuries, nerve injuries, fractures, Cerebral Palsy, Erb’s Palsy, bleeding under one or more cranial bones, and breakage of blood vessels in the eyes. Some birth injuries may resolve with time or minimal treatment. Others may require more extensive medical intervention and can have lasting effects.
Causes of Birth Injuries
Birth injuries may occur due to various factors and risks, including medical negligence. Some of the most common causes of birth trauma resulting in injuries include the following:
- Administering medications, such as Pitocin, improperly
- Neglecting to use the appropriate techniques when aiding in a delivery
- Failing to accurately read fetal ultrasounds
- Delaying expediting a delivery or performing a cesarean section when the condition of the mother or baby dictates
- Using delivery instruments incorrectly or in otherwise unsafe manners
- Neglecting to promptly recognize and appropriately respond to signs of fetal distress
Some causes of birth injuries increase due to factors such as the baby’s positioning during labor, the mother’s weight, the baby’s weight, the size and shape of the mother’s birth canal or pelvis, or premature delivery. Even with such factors present, however, medical providers may prevent many birth injuries by providing the appropriate level of care and following proper techniques and practices.
Long-Term Birth Injury Care Needs
As they grow up, infants injured during birth may have ongoing medical and lifestyle needs. For example, people may need medical interventions such as surgery, follow-up appointments, and rehabilitation down the road due to conditions developed because of their birth injuries. Additionally, they may need assistive or adaptive devices, including wheelchairs or walkers, as well as aid with housing modifications and transportation assistance. For instance, a person wheelchair-bound due to a birth injury may need a ramp added to his or her home.
The Costs of Life-Long Care
The parents of children injured at birth may have concerns about how they will afford their children’s medical expenses and care in the present and in the future. Should they believe medical negligence caused their child’s injuries, parents may consider consulting with an attorney. There they can discuss their options and whether they may hold the medical provider financially responsible for their child’s injuries and the resulting damages. States often impose a statute of limitations, or time limit, for acting on medical negligence claims. Additionally, the state may limit the total amount of damages that the court may award plaintiffs in such cases.