The term birth injuries refers to injuries babies suffer before, during or shortly after birth. They range from mild injuries that cause no long-term issues to severe injuries that can result in a lifetime of disability. Although many common birth injuries are unavoidable, some of them are caused or made worse by medical errors. If this is the case, then such birth injuries would fall under Illinois medical malpractice laws. Below is a rundown of common birth injuries that can occur during the birthing process. Not all injuries are a result of negligence or medical malpractice, but it is important to be informed about types of injuries in order to recognize some potential signs and causes.
Serious Common Birth Injuries
Potentially serious birth injuries are unfortunately common. Forceps or vacuum extractors used to help the baby pass through the birth canal can sometimes injure the child, causing injuries ranging from small bruises to depressed skull fractures. Pressure placed on the infant’s face during delivery can result in temporary or permanent paralysis of the face. Difficult births can lead to bone fractures. Some injuries, such as inappropriately prescribed medication or botched circumcisions, occur during pregnancy or after the birth.
Brain injuries are often some of the most devastating. These injuries usually occur when the oxygen supply to the baby’s brain is cut off or limited before, during or after the birth. Heavy blood loss or a twisted or crimped umbilical cord are common causes. These injuries often result in learning disabilities, debilitating mental impairment, seizure disorders or cerebral palsy. In addition
The term cerebral palsy actually refers to a group of conditions that are caused by a lack of oxygen and affect the way the baby’s brain works and how well he or she can control his or her own movements.
Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is most likely in cases of premature birth. Causes that might be due to medical error include harmful medication prescribed during pregnancy, head trauma during the birth that results in excessive bleeding afterwards or failure to perform a caesarean section in time to get oxygen to a baby that is experiencing distress in the womb.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Parents of children with cerebral palsy may not notice anything is wrong until the baby is slow to reach milestones like rolling over, smiling or sitting up. Some parents notice that their infant has poor muscle tone and co-ordination. Involuntary movements may also occur with cerebral palsy, and hearing and vision problems are also common.
Erb’s palsy, also called brachial palsy, occurs when the nerves that control arm and hand movements are stretched or torn during birth. It is usually caused when too much pressure is put on the child’s shoulder, head or neck during the birth. Although mild cases may heal themselves, more severe cases may result in permanent damage to the nerves.
Causes of Erb’s Palsy
Erb’s palsy typically occurs when a child’s shoulders have a hard time fitting through the mother’s birth canal. It is more common in forceps or vacuum extractor deliveries. Medical errors that can lead to Erb’s palsy include using too much force during a delivery, failure to recognize and adequately address the problem when a baby is too big to be delivered vaginally and poor management of the delivery.
Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy
Symptoms include a limp or paralyzed arm and fingers. Newborns with the condition often draw their arms tight to their bodies and fail to move them or to grip. The condition usually prevents the child from being able to rotate or flex the affected limb. Treatments range from immobilization of the arm to physical therapy and surgery.
Birth Injury: First Steps
If a child has suffered from a birth injury, it’s vital that the parent act quickly to make sure their rights and the rights of the child are protected. If the injury occurred in the Chicago area, it may be a good first step to work with a local attorney who is familiar with state and federal laws as they apply to birth injury cases.