Having a baby is supposed to be a time for celebration – but for too many Sacramento families, it’s not. A birth injury can snatch the joy from your family’s special day and create an avalanche of worry about the future. How will you pay for your child’s medical treatments? Who will help you care for your child as he or she recovers – and will he or she ever recover?
The sad truth is that some medical caregivers, including obstetricians, midwives and nurses, are negligent when it comes to delivering the care that newborns and their mothers deserve.
Hundreds of thousands of mothers and infants are injured in the U.S each year – and most of those injuries are preventable, according to a statistical brief conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Some injuries are less common than others are, and some don’t have lasting consequences. However, many require immediate intervention – sometimes surgical in nature – and if left untreated, can lead to permanent disability or even death. Unfortunately, some birth injuries, such as cerebral palsy, cannot be corrected.
The collarbone is the bone most commonly fractured during labor and delivery. These broken bones make movement painful for the baby, and complications during the healing practice can delay a child’s normal growth and development.
Skull fractures are less common. They often result from forceps extraction, and they may be accompanied by soft tissue swelling. The worst fractures can even result in brain injuries and permanent brain damage.
The term intracranial hemorrhage refers to bleeding in the skull. It’s usually under the two innermost layers of the brain’s delicate covering. This bleeding can cause extreme pressure on an infant’s developing brain, and it can cause brain damage or even death.
Trauma to one or more of the spinal roots can cause significant problems for an infant. A brachial plexus injury, which occurs between roots C5 and C8, may make your baby unable to move his or her arm; it can cause decreased muscle tone and a complete lack of reflexive ability. Some children can regain movement and maintain a normal range of motion, but others cannot.
Injury to the phrenic nerve can result in paralysis of the diaphragm; this results in the infant developing acute respiratory distress. In many cases, phrenic nerve paralysis accompanies a brachial plexus injury.
Perinatal asphyxia is lifethreatening. It occurs when an infant doesn’t get enough oxygen, and that’s usually because there’s an oxygen deficiency in his or her blood or there’s insufficient blood flow to the baby. It can cause permanent damage or death.
Spinal cord injuries in infants are typically much more severe than other types of birth injuries are. These types of injuries are often caused by the use of forceps, traumatic nerve damage or meningeal tear. A spinal cord injury in a baby can lead to and neurologic problems that last a lifetime.
Cerebral palsy is an irreversible condition that affects between two and three children out of every 1,000. Cerebral palsy causes weak muscles, muscle spasms and under- or undeveloped motor skills. This injury is caused by a brain injury that occurs before, during or immediately after birth – and in many cases, it’s completely preventable.
While nobody can predict whether an infant will be injured at birth, the fact is that most birth injuries are preventable. If doctors, nurses and midwives, as well as other health professionals involved, were to observe the proper precautions and follow hospital procedures correctly, the rates of birth injury in this country would likely be much lower than they are.
Some babies are more susceptible to birth injuries, though – and that includes those born prematurely.
Because babies aren’t fully developed until around 39 weeks of gestation (a little over 9 months), they’re exceptionally delicate. When infants are born too early, they’re more likely to suffer a birth injury than their older counterparts are.
If your newborn was injured because of a doctor’s, nurse’s or midwife’s negligence or carelessness, your family could be entitled to financial compensation that helps pay for medical care, pain and suffering, and other expenses you’ll incur.
Call us at 916-303-2800 or contact us online for a free case evaluation. We’ll be happy to fight for your baby and get your family the justice you deserve.