When Labor and Delivery Negligence Leads to Birth Trauma
The term birth injury refers to any physical trauma that an infant suffers during the process of childbirth. These injuries can result from a vast array of complications or errors during labor and delivery, ranging from delayed C-section to overexertion of force when pulling a baby from the birth canal. Birth injuries can occur in any part of an infant’s body and can range from minor to extremely severe. A birth injury can present symptoms immediately or go undetected for years before being identified. When obstetricians and other doctors fail to uphold the proper standard of care, diligently monitoring the key indicators of health for the mother and child, and taking immediate action when potentially dangerous situations arise, birth injuries can be a tragic outcome.
If your child suffered a birth injury due to medical negligence during labor or delivery, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. When seeking damages for medical treatment, future care, and losses associated with your child’s birth injury, you need an experienced birth injury team on your side. With offices in Newark, New Jersey, and Manhattan, New York, our attorneys advocate for birth injury and pediatric malpractice victims throughout the New Jersey area. We will thoroughly investigate your case to identify errors that led to your baby’s injury and develop a comprehensive claim for compensation. Call (866)-708-8617 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation now.
What are Common Birth Injuries?
There are many different kinds of birth injuries; however, the most common fall within specific categories. Our experienced New Jersey birth injury attorneys represent victims who suffer birth trauma, including:
Brain injuries can involve trauma to the soft tissues, nerves, bones, bleeding or swelling, or brain damage caused by lack of oxygen.
- Hemorrhage: bleeding that can occur inside the skull (intracranial hemorrhage), inside the brain (cerebral hemorrhage), or inside the brain’s ventricular system (intraventricular hemorrhage). It can also be caused by a rupturing one of the blood vessels (subdural hemorrhage).
- Cephalohematoma: bleeding that occurs under one of the cranial bones. This type of bleeding often manifests as an area of swelling on the infant’s head. The raised lump is usually apparent within the first few hours after birth. Although it usually goes away, it may take between 2 weeks and 3 months to entirely resolve itself.
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE): this condition occurs as a result of oxygen deprivation (birth asphyxia). Hypoxia (reduced oxygen) or anoxia (lack of oxygen) can almost immediately kill brain cells and cause permanent brain damage. The results of hypoxia depend on the specific case but may involve developmental delays, cognitive impairments, and learning disabilities.
- Cerebral Palsy: an overarching category of brain disorders affecting movement, balance, muscle coordination, and posture. This collection of neurological disorders is the leading type of motor disability in children and is often caused by medical negligence during childbirth.
Babies can experience nerve damage anywhere in their bodies during the birthing process. However, some nerve injuries occur more frequently than others.
- Brachial plexus injury: this type of injury involves damage to the brachial plexus, which is the network of nerves that controls movement in the shoulder, arm, wrist, hand, and fingers. The brachial plexus nerve bundle is often injured when shoulder dystocia is also present. Shoulder dystocia makes it difficult to deliver a baby’s shoulder through the birth canal. When a doctor uses excessive force, bends, stretches, or places too much pressure on the brachial plexus nerves, this may result in problems with movement of the arm or hand. One type of brachial plexus injury is Erb’s Palsy.
- Spinal cord injury: if the nerves of the spinal cord experience trauma through pulling, over-stretching, or compression. The results of a spinal cord injury are often catastrophic, including paralysis.
- Facial nerve injury: when the baby experiences excessive pressure on the nerves of their face, some of the facial nerves can be damaged. This may lead to paralysis on one side of the face.
Sometimes, infants experience broken bones or fractures while being delivered. The most common types of bone injuries involve a broken clavicle or collarbone. Broken clavicles are often associated with shoulder dystocia or abnormal birth presentation such as breech position.
What puts a baby at risk for birth injury?
Although a birth injury can happen to any child, there are certain factors that place a mother and child at increased risk for birth injuries. Some of the conditions that often give rise to birth injuries include:
- Premature infants: babies born before reaching 37 weeks in utero are more prone to injuries
- Fetal macrosomia: a condition use to describe babies who are large in size for the period of gestation, typically it refers to infants who are weigh over 4,000 grams or 8 pounds, 13 ounces
- Cephalopelvic disproportion: when an infant’s head is larger than the size and shape of the mother’s pelvis, the pelvis may be unable to accommodate a vaginal birth.
- Abnormal birthing presentation: this refers to the position the fetus is in prior to delivery (i.e. breech or face-first)
- Difficult birth: also known as dystocia, this may be caused by a variety of factors but can place undue stress on the mother and fetus
- Prolonged labor
- Assisted delivery: errors while use forceps or vacuum extractors may injure the baby as it exits the womb
Contact Experienced NJ Birth Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation
The medical professionals responsible for delivering your child must be extremely aware of potential risks and complications throughout the process. If they fail to monitor, assess, or take immediate and appropriate action when necessary, your baby may suffer a birth injury that impacts their cognitive, intellectual, or physical development and potentially causes permanent disability. This may mean you have grounds for a birth injury claim.
If your child has exhibited signs of a birth injury and you suspect medical negligence may have played in role, it is vital to contact an experienced birth injury attorney as soon as possible. Our highly experienced birth injury lawyers assist birth injury victims and families throughout New Jersey and New York, including in Hackensack, Morristown, Paterson, Jersey City, New Brunswick, and Elizabeth. Contact us online or call (866)-708-8617 today for a free consultation. With offices in Newark, NJ and New York, NY, we are also happy to schedule an appointment at the office nearest you.