Every day, women trust doctors and nurses to help deliver their babies. But sometimes mistakes occur, resulting in permanent, life-changing injuries to the baby. These heartbreaking situations may have been avoided with proper care. Learn more about pursuing compensation for birth injuries with a free case review today.
What Are Birth Injuries?
A birth injury is any form of harm that happens to an infant as they are born. Birth injuries are often caused by preventable medical errors made by doctors or other health care professionals, otherwise known as medical malpractice. Sokolove Law handles medical malpractice cases, including preventable birth injuries.
Birth injuries can damage a baby’s brain or body and vary in severity. More serious birth injuries can last a lifetime and lead to permanent disabilities that affect your child’s emotional, physical, and cognitive development.
Kristin P. (00:00):
My name is Kristin, and I'm one of the nurses here with Sokolove Law.
Kristin P. (00:10):
Any person who's had a child with a birth related injury, I would talk to them about what happened during their pregnancy, the delivery, and how the child is doing to see if it's something we could assist with.
Kristin P. (00:22):
I've been a nurse for 20 years. And I started in medical surgical nursing. And then, I did some work in the operating room. I was in the Army. And after that I've been working labor and delivery ever since then, maternal child health, NICU, antepartum, postpartum, anything that has to do with having a baby. What I've learned from working in the hospital is what is supposed to happen, or what we would expect to happen during, what somebody would call, a normal delivery. And it helps me be able to differentiate the red flags or the situations that could potentially cause an injury to a child or a mother.
Unfortunately, birth injuries are more common than many might think. In the United States, 7 out of 1,000 babies will be injured at birth.
Families are often unprepared for the emotional as well as financial challenges brought on by birth injuries. For example, the lifetime cost of care for someone with cerebral palsy, a condition often caused by a brain injury at birth, is 10 times greater than for the average person, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These costs can be financially devastating to families.
Birth injury lawyers can help families with filing legal claims to help pay for these tremendous costs and improve the quality of life for their child.
Get the Help You Deserve
You may be eligible for compensation. We may be able to help.
Birth Injuries vs. Birth Defects
Birth-related injuries generally occur right before, during, or following childbirth. They are often caused by complications or something going wrong during labor and delivery, including medical negligence or malpractice on behalf of doctors, obstetricians, or other health care providers.
Birth defects, however, occur predominantly during the first 3 months of pregnancy, when the baby’s organs are still forming. For most birth defects, the exact cause is unknown but believed to be a mixture of genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors, according to the CDC.
Types of Birth Injuries
Some of the most common birth injuries include:
- Bleeding in the brain
- Brachial plexus injury
- Brain damage or swelling
- Cephalohematoma (accumulation of blood above the skull but under the scalp)
- Cerebral palsy
- Erb’s palsy
- Facial nerve injury or paralysis
- Fetal distress or lack of oxygen in the brain
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy or HIE (when the baby’s brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen or blood flow)
- Injuries related to the use of forceps or vacuum extraction
- Intracranial hemorrhages
- Jaundice and kernicterus (when bilirubin collects in the brain due to untreated jaundice)
- Nerve damage
- Shoulder dystocia (when one or both of the baby’s shoulders get stuck in the mother’s pelvis during delivery)
- Skull fractures or bone fractures
- Spinal cord injuries
- Stillbirths and death
- Umbilical cord strangulation
How to Recognize a Birth Injury in Your Child
Identifying a birth injury in your child is no easy task. While some birth injuries are recognized during routine pediatric checkups, others may go unnoticed for months or even years. They may even be mistaken for other conditions or neurological disorders.
Generally, your child may show signs of a birth injury if they:
- Cannot move one of their limbs
- Experience seizures within 48 hours of birth
- Have hearing or vision issues
- Have problems with their muscle tone (stiff or weak muscles/limbs)
- Miss common developmental milestones for their age (i.e., not rolling over, smiling, standing)
- Prefer one arm/hand over the other
Although your doctor is ultimately responsible for diagnosing any issues in your child, the more attuned you are to your child’s development, the better you’re able to advocate for their best interests.
What Should I Do If I Think My Baby Has a Birth Injury?
Many times we hear from parents who fear their child may be suffering because of a medical mistake that was made during delivery, but they don't know what happened or what they can do about it now. Even if your child hasn’t been diagnosed with anything yet, we still may be able to help with your case.
Sokolove Law has registered nurses on staff who can listen to your story and help you understand what may have happened.
For many families affected by birth traumas, filing a birth injury lawsuit is often the first step on the road toward healing. Legal rights, however, are time-sensitive due to statutes of limitations or state laws that limit how long you have to take legal action.
Given these limitations, it’s important to reach out to one of our nurses as soon as possible to discuss the specifics of your situation.
Want to Talk to a Nurse?
Get in touch with one of our registered nurses with extensive labor and delivery experience.
What Causes Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries are often the result of a medical mistake by a doctor, health care professional, or hospital and can be avoided with proper medical care, but if doctors make careless mistakes before, during, or after delivery, the baby is the one who suffers.
While there are many causes of birth injuries, some of the most common events that can result in life-changing disabilities include:
- Improper use of forceps or vacuum extractors
- Medical errors before, during, or shortly after childbirth
- Misdiagnosis or failure to recognize a serious medical condition
- Failure to properly assess risk factors beforehand
- Excessive force during delivery
Birth Injury Risk Factors
While no one can predict when a birth injury may occur, there are many risk factors that can increase the likelihood of an injury occurring at birth, including:
- Difficult deliveries or prolonged labor
- If the baby presents in an abnormal fetal position (buttocks-first or in breech delivery)
- If the baby has a large head that could delay or prolong delivery
- If the baby’s shoulders become stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone during delivery
- If the mother has a small birth canal
- If the mother is obese or diabetic
- The use of vacuum extraction or forceps to hasten delivery
- Substandard care on the part of medical personnel during pregnancy, labor, and delivery
- Undiagnosed medical conditions or complications
- Vaginal deliveries of babies with a high birth weight (over 8 lbs.)
In many cases, proper medical care can help address these risk factors and ensure a safe pregnancy and delivery. We have registered nurses with labor and delivery experience who can listen to your story and help you understand what may have happened — contact us today.