In the United States, many births take place without complications or trauma. Sadly, about seven out of every 1,000 newborns will be affected by a birth injury. Current statistics provided by the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project show that roughly 158,000 avoidable birth injuries happen every year.
How common are birth injuries?
If you feel that your baby’s birth injury was avoidable, contact a respected Virginia medical malpractice lawyer from the personal injury law firm of Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp. We can review the facts of your case and design a bespoke legal strategy for your specific circumstances.
What Are the Most Common Birth Injuries?
The majority of birth injuries involve trauma to the brain, which can have a profound impact on every other aspect of a child’s development and growth. Others might have a lasting effect on a child’s muscle mobility and nerve function. Almost all of them will require multiple types of medical treatments and therapies, usually for the rest of their lives.
Some of the most common birth injuries in Virginia are:
Brachial Plexus Injuries
A brachial plexus injury involves nerve damage between the infant’s upper spine and the neck, shoulder, hand, and arm. While it is possible for the damage to be temporary and confined to a stretched nerve, the child could be left permanently disabled. The most extreme instances of brachial plexus injuries entail ruptured or torn nerves that will never heal properly. In other extreme cases, the baby is left completely paralyzed because the roots of the nerves have been ripped from the spine.
An estimated two out of every 1,000 infants born in the U.S. are diagnosed with cerebral palsy. This condition results in weak muscles, muscle spasms, and a lack of motor skills. Improper birthing techniques, a failure to observe fetal distress, and inadequate supervision of the mother during labor, can all result in brain damage that leads to cerebral palsy.
Excess pressure on an infant’s face can cause damage to the nerves. Facial paralysis has also been linked to vacuum extractions and excessive use of forceps. The child might not be able to open one eye or move one side of their face.
Vacuum extraction and the use of forceps can lead to a subgaleal hemorrhage in an infant. A subgaleal hemorrhage is bleeding that occurs underneath the newborn’s scalp but above the periosteum, resulting in serious bleeding. In severe cases, the child might need a blood transfusion.
Perinatal asphyxia is what happens when the blood is deprived of oxygen during birth. When the baby does not receive sufficient blood flow, it can lead to shock, seizures, or even a coma.
Spinal Cord Damage
An infant’s spinal cord is extremely delicate. Clumsy or unskilled use of forceps during the delivery process could lead to spinal cord or nerve damage, which can lead to neurological issues and permanent paralysis.
Newborn babies can also experience bleeding between the inner and outer film that covers their brains. A subdural hemorrhage places extra pressure on the brain’s surface. Babies with a subdural hemorrhage could have serious health issues, including seizures.
What Causes Birth Injuries?
While it is certainly possible for a baby to be born with a birth injury that is not caused by human error, most of them are preventable. If a physician, nurse, or other medical worker was the direct cause of a newborn’s birth injury, the family might be entitled to seek financial compensation via a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Some examples of medical negligence that can lead to birth injuries are:
- Complications with the umbilical cord
- Misuse or excessive use of forceps
- Poorly treated infections
- Delayed C-Sections
- Jaundice that is left untreated
- Failing to notice fetal distress
Medical malpractice lawsuits are often challenging and require an attorney with years of experience in order to be successful. If your child was injured during birth, we can offer your family reliable legal guidance.
Was Your Child Injured During Birth?
If medical negligence caused your child to sustain a birth injury, we urge you to speak with an experienced Virginia birth injury attorney. When you work with a skilled Virginia medical malpractice attorney from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, you increase your chances of obtaining damages for your medical bills, lost earnings, pain, suffering, and more. Schedule a free, consultation by calling us at (833) 997-1774.