What are signs that a birth injury has occurred?
Identifying a birth injury is not an easy task. In some cases an injury may be evident immediately after delivery. Often, however, symptoms of a birth injury may not appear until months or even years later.
Some initial signs of a birth injury include:
- Abrasions, bruises or swelling on the infant’s face, head or shoulder
- Seizures that develop within 48 hours
- The infant’s failure to begin breathing immediately following delivery
- An infant requiring resuscitation (CPR, breathing tube) at the time of delivery
- A “floppy” appearance indicating lack of muscle tone
- One arm that is limp in appearance
Birth injury symptoms that can appear later in a child’s development include lack of muscle coordination, failure to reach, or delay in reaching developmental milestones such as rolling over, sitting up, crawling, and walking.
What are common developmental milestones?
|Month||Movement Milestones||Visual & Hearing Milestones||Developmental Health Watch|
|Brings hands within range of eyes and mouth.Moves head from side to side while lying on stomach. Strong reflex movements.||Focuses 8 to 12 inches (20.3 to 30.4 cm) away.Hearing is fully mature. May turn toward familiar sounds and voices.||Sucks and feeds slowly.Doesn’t blink when shown a bright light. Rarely moves arms and legs; seems stiff Seems excessively loose in the limbs, or floppy.|
|Raises head and chest when lying on stomach.Supports upper body with arms when lying on stomach. Pushes down on legs when feet are placed on a firm surface. Takes swipes at dangling objects with hands.||Follows moving objects.Starts using hands and eyes in coordination. Turns head toward direction of sound.||Doesn’t seem to respond to loud sounds.Doesn’t grasp and hold objects. Can’t support head. Doesn’t push down with legs when feet are placed on firm surface.|
|Rolls both ways (front to back, back to front).Sits with, and then without, support of hands. Supports whole weight on legs.||Ability to track moving objects improves.Responds to own name. Responds to sound by making sounds.||Seems very stiff, with tight muscles.Seems very floppy, like a rag doll. Doesn’t roll over in either direction (front to back or back to front). Can’t sit with help.|
|Crawls forward on belly by pulling with arms and pushing with legs.Pulls self up to stand Walks holding onto furniture.||Responds to simple verbal requests.Uses simple gestures, such as shaking head for “no” Says “dada” and “mama” .||Doesn’t crawl.Can’t stand when supported. Doesn’t say single words (for example, “mama” or “dada”).|
These symptoms are meant to be basic guidelines. Only a physician can properly diagnose a birth injury. Therefore, consult with a physician if you think your child is showing signs of delayed development. If you believe your child has a birth injury that may have been caused by negligent medical care, one of our birth injury lawyers may be able to help. We have over 30 years of experience representing families like yours in birth injury cases resulting from substandard care. Our team of registered nurses will listen to your concerns and help get your questions answered.