A birth injury is any injury that affects a child from the very beginning of life - whether sustained during pregnancy, during labor and delivery, or shortly after birth. Some birth injuries are relatively minor and heal quickly, but others can have long-term or lifelong effects.
Types of birth injuries
Labor is a difficult and traumatic process, and newborns can sustain any number of injuries. Some injuries, however, are particularly associated with childbirth, including:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Seizures and Epilepsy
- Brachial Plexus Injury/Shoulder Dystocia
- Facial Paralysis & Bell's Palsy
- Birth-Related Infections and Sepsis
- Birth Trauma
- Brain Injuries
- Spinal Cord Injuries
These are permanent, disabling injuries that may leave a child with lifelong special needs. Adding a child to your family is always a challenge, but a child with one of these birth injuries poses special, unique challenges that take their toll mentally, emotionally and financially. We've compiled a list of resources for families in this challenging situation.
Warning signs, risk factor and causes of birth injury
Every child's birth proceeds in a slightly different way, and not all birth injuries can be anticipated. That said, some birth injuries occur due to preventable causes. Here are a few of the factors that contribute to serious birth injuries:
- Delayed C-Sections
- Premature Births
- Head Cooling and Whole Body Cooling
- Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (Oxygen Deprivation)
- Bilirubin Encephalopathy (Kernicterus)
Sometimes, early warning signs of birth injury become apparent soon after birth. For example, low Apgar scores at the 10-, 20- or 30-minute mark after birth are correlated with neurological damage. In other cases, symptoms may not become apparent until years later as the child grows and starts missing milestones and experiencing developmental delays.
When a child is born in a birth injury, early intervention is critical. With ongoing treatment and therapy, it is possible to maximize the child's independence and quality of life. Unfortunately, the long-term cost of a birth injury - emotional, physical and financial - can be massive. A lifetime of treatment means a lifetime of medical bills, along with medications, medical devices and other expenses.
Negligence in birth injury cases
One of the most common myths about birth injuries is that they "just happen." While some birth injuries are unavoidable, many do occur due to preventable causes. When that happens, patients and their families have legal options. Seeking financial compensation can help pay for the cost of a life care plan to take care of the child's special needs.
If your child has a birth injury and you suspect a medical provider's negligence was the cause, you should meet with an attorney licensed in your state for a free consultation. An attorney can help you understand what happened and explain your legal rights and options.