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Common Birth Injuries Associated with Medical Malpractice

Updated on June 1, 2016

When it is time to give birth, a mother places her trust in medical professionals and a hospital to safely deliver her baby. Unfortunately, not every birth goes smoothly, and while many babies quickly recover from the injuries they may suffer during the birth process, not all do. When a doctor or hospital fails to exercise reasonable care during childbirth and their negligence causes serious injury to the child, the family may have a medical malpractice claim against their provider. Some common birth injuries include:

Cerebral palsy (CP): This birth injury affects part of the brain that controls muscle movements. It can be caused by lack of oxygen to the baby during birth, maternal infection, infant infection, or infant stroke. Cerebral palsy can vary in severity, and children with cerebral palsy may experience seizures, hearing or vision loss, and problems controlling their bladder or bowels in addition to problems with coordination and balance. While cerebral palsy is not a progressive disease, it is also not curable, although early intervention can improve a child’s muscle control.

Brachial Plexus Injuries: This birth injury is caused by damage to the nerves that go through the neck, shoulder, arm, and hand of the infant. In mild cases, the damage may only be temporary, but in the most severe cases, where the nerve is completely torn, permanent disability may result. Erb’s Palsy, marked by damage to the nerves in the upper arm, and Klumpke’s Palsy, distinguished by damage to the nerves in the lower arm, are both brachial plexus injuries.

Bone fractures: The most common bone fracture to occur during birth is a broken clavicle, in cases where there is trouble maneuvering an infant’s shoulders through the birth canal. Although many of these heal without incident, not all do. Skull fractures may result from the improper use of forceps during delivery.

Perinatal asphyxia: This birth injury results from a lack of oxygen to the newborn during birth long enough to cause injury. While lack of oxygen can cause damage to many internal organs, the primary concern with this type of injury is brain damage, which may lead to developmental delays or intellectual disability. Premature separation of the placenta, the umbilical cord being wrapped around the infant’s neck, cord prolapse, inadequate oxygen in the mother’s blood, or other factors can all cause perinatal asphyxia.

Facial paralysis: If too much pressure is put on a baby’s face during delivery, damage to the facial nerves can result. Symptoms include inability to move or blink on the affected side of the face. While some cases resolve without intervention, if the nerve is torn, the damage may be permanent.

According to lawyers at Hodes, Milman, Liebeck LLP in California, a birth injury case requires you to show that the care you received was not up to the generally accepted medical standard of care, and that the negligent treatment your child received caused the injury in question. Such cases are typically complex, requiring the testimony of expert witnesses and representation by attorneys experienced in medical malpractice. If you feel the action or inaction of medical professionals caused injury to your child during birth, contact an experienced birth injury attorney.


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