The Top Causes of Birth Injuries
When it comes time for your child to finally be brought into this world, you assume that the labor, while potentially long and painful, will have as few complications as possible and will result in a healthy baby. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Birth injuries happen in hospitals all across the country, including here in Colorado. These kinds of traumatic events can have a detrimental impact on your child’s life and yours. But how do they happen? And who should be held responsible?
Labor can last anywhere from a couple of hours to over an entire day. However, while longer labors are not uncommon, any labor that lasts for more than 18 hours is considered delayed. Delayed labors are one of the leading causes of birth injuries, as the prolonged period of time in the labor position can cause the baby to become compressed in the uterus and birth canal. This compression can cause extreme distress in the baby’s body, leading to a spike in blood pressure, strokes, or cardiovascular issues.
With a delayed birth, your doctor may decide that a cesarean section, or the removal of the baby through surgery, is the best course of action. Or they may use medications that can help encourage a birth to move faster. Whatever decision is made to help fix the potential issue, it should be made quickly, as the longer the labor is delayed, the more likely a birth injury will occur.
The umbilical cord gives the baby proper nutrients and oxygen while within the womb. After the baby is born, the umbilical cord is usually snipped off, as the baby can now breathe on their own. However, if the cord becomes prolapsed, or delivered before the baby, then the cord may become compressed preventing blood and oxygen from reaching the fetus. In such a case, the baby will need to be born prematurely, either through C-section or through a medically induced labor. Or the umbilical cord may be compressed during labor. Doctors and nurses use electronic fetal heart rate monitoring to assess the cord.
On the other hand, if a baby is born prematurely, such as when a doctor prescribes dangerous medications or does not keep a close enough eye on the mother’s progress and health, then the lungs may become underdeveloped. This could make it difficult for the baby to breathe on his or her own. A responsible doctor should immediately admit the child to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where the baby can be properly treated.
The doctor in charge of your child’s birth holds a great deal of power and responsibility. One slip up, one moment of neglect, could easily result in a serious birth injury. Your doctor should monitor your baby from the first few weeks all the way up until labor, as this is the only way to make sure that any potential early complications are caught and rectified. However, inexperienced medical staff may misread charts, misinterpret data, or misuse medical devices and medications during labor. If this happens, and is the cause of your baby’s injury, then that means that your child’s injuries came as a result of medical malpractice, and you should contact our firm immediately.
The Impact on Your Child
The impact that the injury has on your child’s life will depend on the severity of the injury itself. A broken bone can heal with time and proper medical treatment. However, a brain injury, potentially caused by oxygen deprivation, such as in Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), can lead to your child suffering developmental delays. Even an injury that doesn’t impact your baby’s brain could still lead to your child struggling to keep up with their peers. A paralyzed limb, such as Erb’s Palsy, could become stunted, as the child may not be able to exercise it properly.
On top of that, babies and children need to be able to socialize with their peers in order for them to develop socially and mentally. This means talking, playing, and even roughhousing with other kids. If your child is unable to do this due to their birth injury, it could lead to them struggling in school and even in their jobs when they grow up. While the immediate symptoms of your child’s birth injury may fade as they get older, the developmental delays could impact them for the rest of their life.
None of this is to mention the cost that comes with birth injuries. Your child will likely need medical devices, medications, therapy, and surgery in order to remain healthy. All of this can cost a pretty penny, and the costs can build up over the years, as the birth injury may result in a lifelong disability for your child. However, if a negligent medical professional caused your child’s injury, you may be able to pursue a claim against them.
At Leventhal Puga Braley P.C., our experienced team of trial attorneys has seen the kind of damage that a birth injury can cause, which is why we are dedicated to helping our clients get the compensation they need after a birth injury. Several of our staff, including Jim Puga, Alex Wilschke and Molly Greenblatt, are members of the Birth Trauma Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice, a member-only group of attorneys who zealously advocate for injured children and their families around the world. If your child has suffered a birth injury, then you need the help of a skilled and passionate Denver medical malpractice attorney at our firm. Call our firm at (303) 759-9945 or toll-free (877) 433-3906 today to discuss your case in a no-cost initial consultation.