Birth injuries can be a devastating event following the birth of a child. While some birth injuries will heal on their, other children who suffer birth injuries may need to undergo extensive treatment including surgery or physical therapy, or may be left with life-long disabilities. Below are some of the most common birth injuries and the complications they can cause for children.
What is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury refers to any sort of physical injury that occurs to a baby before, during, or shortly after delivery. Most birth injuries occur during the delivery process due to complications or due to error made by the delivery team. Minor birth injuries may eventually resolve on their own, while some may require treatment and some may result in permanent disability.
When a child suffers a birth injury due to the malpractice of health care providers, families can hold those providers accountable to provide compensation to help pay for treatment for the birth injury and the long-term or life-long complications the injury may cause.
Read more: How Do You Detect Cerebral Palsy?
Common Birth Injuries and Their Complications
Some of the most common birth injuries include:
- Cerebral palsy – A type of brain injury that can be caused by a brain bleed, infection/fever, heart attack/stroke, or lack of oxygen. Complications of cerebral palsy can include developmental delays, speech problems, and motor skills/motor coordination issues. Treatment is usually aimed at helping children build skills to manage disabilities caused by the injury.
- Erb’s palsy – Also known as a brachial plexus injury, caused by damage to the brachial plexus, a grouping of nerves that runs from the spinal cord into the arm. The injury can be caused by a baby’s head and shoulders getting stuck during delivery (a condition known as shoulder dystocia) or by the head, neck, and shoulders being pulled on during delivery, such as due to the negligence of the delivery team. Erb’s palsy can result in complications including weakness, numbness, or paralysis of the affected hand, arm, and/or shoulder. While some injuries heal on their own, more serious cases may require surgical intervention and physical/occupational therapy.
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy – A brain injury involving a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the brain. HIE may be caused by prolonged labor, improper fetal position during delivery, placental bleeding, or umbilical cord issues. Depending on the severity of the injury, HIE may result in complications such as hearing/vision problems, feeding issues, developmental delays, or seizures.
- Jaundice – A condition characterized by a yellow appearance of the skin, caused by high levels of bilirubin, a chemical created as the body replaces blood cells. Although most causes of jaundice clear up on their own in a few weeks, more serious cases can involve continued buildup of bilirubin.
- Kernicterus – A more serious case of jaundice where bilirubin has built up to levels that cause brain damage. Complications can include hearing/vision loss and seizures.
- Cephalohematoma – A brain bleed where fluid builds up in the tissue surrounding the brain. This injury puts dangerous pressure on brain tissues. While some cases clear up on their own, more serious cases that go untreated can lead to brain damage and complications such as seizures.
- Vacuum extraction injuries – In some deliveries, doctors may use a vacuum extractor to assist with moving the baby through the birth canal. A vacuum extractor uses a suction force on a baby’s head that allows the doctor to pull the baby while the mother pushes. However, improper or negligent use of vacuum extraction equipment can cause injuries to the brain or head/neck area, leading to complications such as brain or spinal cord damage.
Read more: Can Forceps Cause Birth Defects?
Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Birth Injury Case in Pennsylvania
Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in Pennsylvania? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Pittsburgh birth injury attorneys at Berger & Lagnese, LLC are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout Pennsylvania, including Butler, Cranberry Township, Erie, and Greensburg. Call us today at (412) 471-4300 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 310 Grant St., Suite 720, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.