A Nationwide Birth Injury Resource

Apgar Test - Standard test given to newborn children which measures a child's Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity and Respiration. The primary purpose of an Apgar test is to determine whether a newborn needs immediate medical attention. Low Apgar scores that persist after birth may also indicate a long-term injury.

Bell's Palsy - A form of facial paralysis, often caused by birth trauma, which makes the child unable to move one side of their face. Bell's palsy can be temporary or permanent.

Birth Trauma - A birth injury sustained by a newborn child during the labor and delivery process.

Blindness - Loss of sight, which can be caused by certain types of birth injuries.

Brachial Plexus Injury - Nerve damage to a part of the neck near the collarbone. When these nerves are damaged during birth, the person often has trouble moving that part of the body for the rest of their life.

Brain Injury - Damage to the brain. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) often occur when the oxygen supply to the child is cut off during delivery (birth asphyxia).  They can also occur due to external trauma to the baby's head during labor and delivery. Brain injuries can have a wide range of symptoms and many never truly heal.

Caesarean Section (C-section) - Surgical delivery of a baby. While c-sections carry certain risks of injury like any other major surgery, they need to be performed promptly when the baby is in danger of sustaining brain damage or another severe injury.

Cerebral Palsy - Muscle disorder often caused by damage to a baby's brain sustained during delivery. Children with cerebral palsy often move involuntarily (athetoid cerebral palsy), have trouble walking (ataxic cerebral palsy) or have difficulty moving due to stiff muscles (spastic cerebral palsy). Cerebral palsy often requires lifelong medical care.

Delayed Diagnosis - Failure to diagnose a medical condition in a reasonable period of time, which can lead to complications that could have been prevented with early intervention.

Developmental Delay - Inability to perform certain developmental tasks, such as walking or talking, within the normal time range. Developmental delays are often a warning sign of a long-term birth injury.

Duty to Inform - The responsibility medical professionals have to inform patients of the potential risks and complications of particular medical procedures, such as vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC). Patients must be informed in order to give "informed consent" for a procedure.

Epilepsy - Brain condition which results in frequent seizures (involuntarily movements). Children born with epilepsy due to birth trauma often have seizures for the rest of their lives.

Erb's Palsy - A form of nerve damage caused by a birth injury that results in partial or total paralysis of the upper arm.

Fetal Stroke - Medical term to describe damage to the brain of a fetus caused by blood supply being cut off to the brain. Fetal strokes can kill brain cells and cause permanent damage.

Gestational Diabetes - Form of diabetes (disease in which blood sugar levels are dangerously high) that only occurs during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is associated with a higher risk of certain birth injuries.

Head Cooling - Treatment that involves lowering a newborn baby's body temperature below 92 degrees for 72 hours by applying a cooling cap to the head. This is performed to reduce the severity of brain damage.

Hearing Loss - Loss of hearing, including both partial and total deafness, which sometimes occurs due to injuries sustained by children during birth.

HELLP Syndrome - A serious complication during pregnancy. HELLP stands for the combination of Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelets.

Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) - Brain injury sustained shortly before, during or after birth due to reduced oxygen supply in a child's brain.

Hypertension - Abnormally high blood pressure. Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy include gestational hypertension (high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy); preeclampsia (high blood pressure and signs of problems with the kidneys, liver, and other organs); and eclampsia (preeclampsia and seizures without other prior health problems, such as epilepsy). Hypertension during pregnancy can increase the risk of complications and birth injuries.

Klumpke's Palsy - Another form of nerve damage which often affects the lower arm, wrist and fingers. Children with Klumpke's Palsy often have total paralysis in one hand, which results in the affected hand being locked in a permanent claw-like shape.

Long-Term Injury - An injury with long-term or lifelong consequences. Some children who sustain a birth injury have lifelong medical issues that require constant medical care and other special accommodations.

Maternal Risk Factor - A medical condition or other aspect of the mother that increases the risk of complications and birth injuries. Common maternal risk factors include age (over 35), obesity, hypertension, previous miscarriages, pelvic or cervical insufficiency, and certain types of infections.

Mechanical Ventilation - Mechanical device used to help a newborn child breathe and increase oxygen supply.

Medication Errors - A medical error that involves administering medication incorrectly to a patient. There are five types of medication errors: wrong medication, wrong dosage, wrong route (for example, giving a medication vaginally instead of orally), wrong patient, and wrong time.

Misdiagnosis - Misidentifying one medical condition as another. Misdiagnosis can lead to injury when the incorrect diagnosis causes the wrong treatment to be given.

Misuse of Medical Devices - Use of a medical device in a manner that does not meet standards of care. For example, forceps and vacuum extractors used to aid in the delivery of a child can cause serious head injuries to the child when not used properly.

Pelvic Insufficiency - Weakened pelvis bones, which can break during pregnancy and result in a pelvic fracture. Pelvic insufficiency can also result in difficult delivery and injuries to the baby.

Physical Therapy - Long-term treatment for children with muscular and physical problems associated with certain birth injuries.

Placental Abruption - A medical condition in which the placenta separates from the mother's womb (uterus) before childbirth. Depending on the degree of separation and how close the pregnancy is to term, this may call for bed rest or an immediate c-section to minimize the risk to the baby.

Preeclampsia - Potentially fatal high blood pressure that occurs only during pregnancy, often during the 20th week of pregnancy.

Shoulder Dystocia - Shoulder injury caused by a baby's shoulders becoming trapped inside the mother after the baby's head has already been delivered.

Special Needs - Term used to describe individuals who need extra assistance due to a permanent physical, mental, psychological, neurological or cognitive disability. Many permanent disabilities occur due to injuries sustained before, during or shortly after birth.

Spinal Cord Injury - Some babies sustain spinal cord injuries during the delivery process. This is especially true for difficult deliveries that take longer than usual or when the baby is in an abnormal fetal position during delivery.

Standard of Care - Legal term referring to the care patients can reasonably expect to receive from a licensed medical professional. Doctors and other medical professionals who fail to follow the normal standards of care are considered negligent and may be held legally responsible for injuries or illnesses sustained by newborn children or pregnant women.

Sensory Integration Therapy - Long-term treatment that involves exposing children with brain injuries to visual, audio or other sensory stimulation.

Umbilical Cord - Conduit from the mother's body to the developing fetus that carries oxygen-rich blood. If the umbilical cord becomes wrapped around the fetus, the oxygen supply to the fetus can be restricted, often causing brain damage without immediate medical intervention.

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) - Women who have previously given birth via a cesarean delivery (c-section) are at elevated risk of health problems during subsequent vaginal deliveries. Doctors need to inform patients of all potential risks to both mother and baby when attempting VBAC.

Whole-Body Cooling - Sometimes known as induced hypothermia, this medical procedure involves cooling the body temperature of a newborn child experiencing health problems associated with high body temperature. Whole-body cooling, if performed properly when medically indicated, can prevent brain damage.