Indiana Attorneys Serving Families who are Victims of Birth Injuries
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 3.98 million babies were born in the United States in 2014. Every day pregnant women put their trust in healthcare professionals during the labor and delivery process. Unfortunately not all births occur without difficulties. In some cases, physician error can cause serious permanent injury to the unborn baby.
Brain injuries and physical injuries, including Brachial Plexus (shoulder dystocia) are types of birth injuries that can occur as a result of physician error.
Brain-related birth injuries and failure to monitor fetal distress
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy – HIE and fetal distress
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) can signal fetal distress. Hypoxia is a condition in which there is a significant decrease of oxygen to the brain or other body tissue. HIE is most commonly known to occur when the baby’s brain is deprived of oxygen during childbirth. There are many reasons the brain could be deprived of oxygen during childbirth including the position of the baby in the birth canal, a twisted umbilical cord, or other complications related to physician error. The longer the brain is deprived of oxygen, the more likely a baby will suffer irreversible brain damage. Lack of oxygen to the brain can cause permanent serious injuries including mental retardation and motor skills impairment. Failure on the physician’s part to appropriately monitor for fetal distress can have devastating life-long effects for the baby.
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a type of neurological disorder that affects body movement and muscle coordination. CP can be caused by oxygen deprivation, head trauma, or other complications during childbirth, labor and delivery. Physician error involving the use of excessive force during delivery or misuse of vacuums or medical devices during delivery can cause head trauma or deprive the baby of oxygen long enough to cause the irreversible damage of cerebral palsy. Cognition problems, communication and behavioral issues, perception problems and disturbances of sensation can all accompany the other common motor disorders of cerebral palsy.
There is no cure for cerebral palsy. Treatment for CP is a life-long process and includes activities such as physical therapy, recreational therapy, and speech & language therapy. In some cases oral medications and/or surgery may help the patient work through their unique challenges.
Physical birth injuries
In addition to brain injuries, physical injuries to the baby can occur as a result of birth trauma. Broken bones, including skull fractures, can occur if the physician uses too much force or an improper device during the birthing process. Shoulder dystocia is a complication during delivery and occurs after the delivery of the head, the anterior shoulder of the infant cannot pass below, or requires significant manipulation to pass below, the pubic symphysis. It is diagnosed when the shoulders fail to deliver shortly after the fetal head. It often results in injury to the Brachial Plexus nerve bundle.
Nerve Damage – Brachial Plexus
The brachial plexus is the network of nerves that communicates signals between the spine and the shoulder, arm, or hand. Serious injury to these nerves can occur when the baby’s shoulder, arm, or hand is stretched or compressed during the birthing process causing damage such as paralysis, disfigurement and/or loss of sensation. The baby could also experience a burning sensation in its arms & hands if nerve damage has occurred.
Two types of brachial plexus are Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy. Erb’s palsy affects the nerves of the upper arm while Klumpke’s palsy affects the nerves in the lower part of the arm including the hand and fingers. Permanent nerve damage and paralysis can cause physical deformities in the hand.
Birth Injury Lawsuits
Your baby deserves the best start in life. When that start is damaged by the negligence of physicians and healthcare professionals the effects can be devastating. Permanent injury involving brain trauma, nerve damage, or physical deformities changes a family’s life forever. If your family or a family you know has child that suffers from a birth injury, contact us. The personal injury attorneys at Cohen & Malad have a depth of experience litigating claims of serious child injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and birth injuries and can provide you with a free case evaluation.