Newborn baby in hospital from birth injury

If you or your child were injured before, during, or after labor as the result of negligence, contact us right away. Our birth injury lawyers are experienced and skilled with medical malpractice and birth injury lawsuits. It’s important to contact as soon as possible as Pennsylvania does have a statute of limitations for filing a birth injury lawsuit. Give us a call and schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim with one of our birth injury lawyers. We will consult with medical experts, conduct the necessary research and obtain as much information as we can to ensure your case is fully represented. Schedule a free consultation about your birth injury claim, call (215) 585-2814.

What is a Birth Injury?

Birth injuries are a result of medical negligence that occurs during the labor and delivery process. These injuries can result in permanent disabilities, developmental delays, and learning difficulties for your child. Often, birth injuries require lifelong care, rehabilitation, and specialized resources to help these children improve their lives and capability.
Stanford University defines a birth injury as damage or injury to the child before, during, or just after the birthing process. Occasionally during the birth process, the baby may suffer a physical injury that is simply the result of being born. It is important to note that birth injuries are not the same as birth defects, which can be due to genetic faults during pregnancy or inherited from the parents.

 

The Difference Between a Birth Injury and a Birth Defect.

Birth injuries and birth defects are unfortunately all too common. Both are tragic and may be caused due to the negligence of a medical care provider like a doctor or nurse. It’s important to know the difference between an injury and a defect as it can be what determines if you have a case or not. Some of the most common injuries and defects are outlined below.

Birth Injury

Birth Defect

Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy

Anencephaly

Brachial Plexus

Encephalocele

Erb’s Palsy

Spina bifida

Klumpke’s Palsy

Pulmonary valve atresia

Shoulder Dystocia

Cleft palate

Meconium aspiration syndrome

Esophageal atresia

Injuries from Delivery

Gastroschisis

Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension

Tetralogy of Fallot

 

Determining Fault in a Birth Injury Case

Not all birth injuries are caused by medical malpractice. However, there are many situations where a doctor’s negligence is the main cause of a birth injury. Doctors can be held legally responsible if it’s determined it was their negligent actions that caused the injuries to the newborn. If the actions of hospital or clinic staff caused injury to the baby or mother, they also can be held liable for negligence. Determining whether a doctor acted negligently during labor and delivery comes down to comparing their actions with what a reasonable physician, with similar expertise, would have done in the same situation. If it is determined their level of care fell short of what would be reasonably expected then you may have the basis of a claim for medical negligence. It takes an experienced team of skilled birth injury attorneys to investigate and find clear evidence of negligence.

What are Common Types of Birth Injuries?

The types of injuries an infant can suffer at birth vary and can be categorized according to the underlying cause, including physical trauma, oxygen deprivation, and infection. Below is a list of common birth injuries and their causes:

Bruising

Sometimes a baby will have bruising on the face or head simply from passing through the birth canal, and from associated contact with the mother’s pelvic bones and tissues. If forceps are used during delivery, they may leave temporary marks or bruises on the baby’s head. Vacuum extraction can also cause bruising to the head and may cause a scalp laceration. In extreme cases, forceps use can cause depressed skull fractures, which may require surgical elevation.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

This common birth injury results in a bright red band around the iris of one or both of the baby’s eyes. This does not cause damage to the eyes and usually disappears completely within a week to ten days.

Caput Succedaneum

This is a severe swelling of the baby’s scalp and is more likely to occur as a result of vacuum extraction. The swelling will ordinarily disappear within a few days.

Cephalohematoma

This refers to bleeding between a bone and its fibrous covering. With regard to childbirth, this type of injury is typically seen on the baby’s head. A cephalohematoma will ordinarily resolve within two weeks to three months. If a cephalohematoma is particularly large, the baby may become jaundiced as the red blood cells break down.

Facial Paralysis

Pressure on the baby’s face during labor or birth, or the use of forceps during childbirth, may cause injury to a baby’s facial nerves. If a nerve is bruised, the paralysis can clear up within a few weeks. More severe nerve damage may need surgery toy repair the damaged facial nerves.

Brachial Palsy Injuries

This condition occurs when the brachial plexus (the group of nerves that controls the movement of the arms and hands) is injured. When an injury causes only bruising or swelling, recovery will occur within three months. In more severe cases, there may be permanent nerve damage, and physical therapy or surgery may be required.

Fractured Bones

The most common bone fracture is to the clavicle (collar bone), usually during difficult births or breech delivery. In most cases, the baby recovers quickly once the bone is immobilized.

Brain Injury

Birth difficulties can result in oxygen deprivation to the baby as a result of blood loss, or when the umbilical cord becomes twisted. Prolonged oxygen deprivation can cause brain damage, and may result in seizure disorders, cerebral palsy, or mental impairment.