If you’re a new parent expecting the birth of your first baby, you’ve likely already done a lot of research and planning for the big day. What you may not be prepared for is something no parent wants to experience: a birth injury. While the phrase alone brings a lot of thoughts to mind, there are a lot of misconceptions about this topic. To help explain this, we’ve put together a new parent’s guide to birth injuries.
What Is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury is not the same as a birth defect. A birth defect describes genetic abnormalities that affect how the child develops in the womb. A birth injury describes preventable injuries caused by negligent medical care that occurred either during birth or within six weeks of life.
Crucially, birth injuries don’t just impact the baby. If the mother is severely injured due to medical negligence or succumbs to maternal mortality, that is also considered a birth injury. Worth noting is that the maternal mortality rate in America is one of the highest in the developed world. In Florida, 17.5 new mothers die for every 100,000 births. That’s roughly on par with the rates of Turkey or Saudi Arabia.
While birth injuries impacting the mother are more likely to be fatal, many infant birth injuries can cause a lifetime of difficulty in performing daily tasks and establishing personal independence.
Common Traumatic Birth Injuries
Birth injuries are unpredictable. While bruises and broken bones are very common in the delivery room, those typically heal very quickly. The more considerable risk is that poor delivery techniques or delays lead to irreversible brain damage. Some of the most common kinds include:
Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
This means that the baby experienced brain damage because their brain was deprived of oxygen. This can happen for a number of reasons including delayed c-section, failure to identify and treat placental abruption (when the placenta detaches from the uterus), or the baby becoming stuck in the birth canal.
In each of those situations, the baby is deprived of oxygen, and brain cells will begin to die. The full impacts of this birth injury can often go unrealized for months or years as the baby delays or altogether misses critical developmental milestones such as walking and talking. Later in life, the cognitive impairment resulting from HIE can make it extremely difficult for affected children to complete schooling and live independently.
This is sometimes the result of HIE and sometimes the result of improper delivery techniques. Cerebral palsy combines the cognitive impairment of HIE with paralysis affecting an area of the body. While there are many different kinds of cerebral palsy, one thing remains constant: cerebral palsy makes it much more difficult for impacted children to complete daily tasks. Many affected children require specialized equipment, medications, and routine medical appointments to live comfortably.
For more information about raising a child with cerebral palsy, please refer to our guide.
Fighting for Justice
By definition, a birth injury would not have occurred had doctors followed best practices and a good standard of care. And yet the impacts of a birth injury can have lifelong consequences for you and your family. A birth injury will fundamentally change your family's life, from taking time off for frequent doctor’s appointments to the cost of continued care and medications or even adjusting your home to be handicap accessible.
It is essential that impacted families can fight to hold the negligent doctor accountable and fight for justice. Hiring a birth injury attorney can help you uncover the facts around the case and fight for the compensation you need to cover your child’s healthcare and the loss of quality of life resulting from the medical malpractice.
If your child experienced a life-changing birth injury, the Miami medical malpractice lawyers at Rossman Baumberger Reboso & Spier P.A. are here for you. We have recovered millions of dollars for our medical malpractice clients and are prepared to fight for new parents impacted by birth injuries.
Contact our team today at (305) 900-5493.