The birth of a child is usually one of the happiest moments in our lives. But when something goes wrong during childbirth, and a doctor’s negligence causes life changing birth injuries, your happy moment can quickly change to fear and uncertainty.
Birth injuries are caused by trauma to the infant during the birth process. Some of the more common causes of birth injuries include:
- Prolonged labor
- Breech delivery (legs first)
- Premature birth
- Physician procedures (such as the use of forceps or vacuum)
- Small size or unusual shape of mother’s pelvis
It’s important to note that many birth injuries, such as bruising or swelling, are minor and heal within a few weeks of birth. However, other injuries are more severe. And while a birth injury can occur on its own, they are typically a result of, or directly related to, a doctor’s negligence.
There are three common types of birth injury caused by negligence.
Facial paralysis. Great pressure is often placed on a newborn’s head and face during the birth process, frequently through the use of forceps. This pressure can cause bruising to the facial nerves which typically heals within a matter of weeks. If the nerve or nerves of the face are torn, however, the result can be permanent facial paralysis and surgery is often required to help correct the problem.
Brachial plexus injury. This condition, also known as Erbs Palsy, involves weakness or paralysis of the arm caused by nerve damage to the shoulder during delivery. It is quite often caused when a doctor applies too much pressure when pulling the child out of the birth canal or by the position of the shoulders when a child is delivered breech. Some children who suffer this type of birth injury may fully recover within a matter of months, but others will not be so lucky and will face a lifetime of difficulty as a result.
Cerebral Palsy. This is a chronic disorder that usually results from trauma to the brain during childbirth. Cerebral palsy symptoms include loss of nerve functions and movement. There are several ways in which a doctor’s negligence can cause cerebral palsy, including improper use of forceps or failing to properly monitor the baby’s condition and leaving the child in the birth canal too long, resulting in lack of oxygen. The severity of this condition varies depending on the type and level of damage done at birth, however it is most often met with a lifetime of suffering and it does not improve with time.
If your child has suffered a birth injury due to a doctor’s negligence, you may be able to receive compensation such as medical bills and punitive damages for the child’s pain and suffering. An experienced medical attorney can tell you if you have a legitimate claim and the best way in which to pursue it.