Birth injuries are injuries affecting the infant when a birth injury occurs during the process of labor. Most birth injuries are caused by complications that arise during the course of delivery. While medical professionals are trained to anticipate complications during labor, it is not always possible to act in time to prevent a child from suffering birth injuries. In some cases, this is unavoidable, but in others it is the result of medical negligence.
Types of Birth Injuries
About seven out of every 1,000 children born in the United States sustains an injury during the process of birth. Most birth injuries are minor and heal relatively quickly without treatment. However, difficult deliveries and the presence of risk factors may increase the likelihood of more severe injuries. If complications are not dealt with swiftly, birth injuries may cause lifelong conditions and disabilities in some cases.
Infants may sustain birth injuries that affect every part of the body, including:
- Head and brain injuries
- Nerve injuries
- Bone fractures, including fractures to the skull
- Spinal cord injuries
- Injuries to the organs or brain from oxygen deprivation or trauma
- Skin and soft tissue injuries
Birth Injury Risk Factors
There are many factors that can increase the risk of birth injuries:
- Premature birth
- Multiple births
- Advanced age of mother
- First birth for mother
- Medical problems such as thyroid problems or seizure disorders in mother
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Placenta complications
Effects of Birth Injuries
Birth injuries can affect all members of a family or community, including parents, siblings, and other close relatives and friends that may help care for a child. Parents and guardians may need to alter work schedules, careers, and other obligations in order to help care for a child that has special needs resulting from birth injuries. The costs of care may burden the family with financial difficulties. Families may also suffer emotional strain as a result of birth injuries and the necessary care and treatments that accompany many conditions.
Birth Injury Effect on Child
In many cases, it is not the birth injury that causes difficulties for the child, but the condition that stems from the birth injury. Some conditions may develop over time or may not be noticeable until a child begins to grow and develop, while other conditions and injury outcomes may be obvious immediately after delivery. In most cases, birth injuries have an effect on a child’s self esteem and emotional health, as well as the child’s physical health.
Common conditions stemming from birth injuries include:
- Caput Succedaneum
- Facial paralysis
- Brachial palsy
- Erb’s palsy
- Cerebral palsy
- Spina bifida
- Cystic fibrosis
Birth Injury Treatment
Birth injuries may require surgeries, medications, and therapy to treat depending on the type of injury and the specific details of the case. Surgeries may help to alleviate pain and pressure or prevent conditions from worsening. Medications can help control seizures, muscle spasms, inflammation, and pain. Therapy can help children in many aspects of birth injury condition management. Physical and occupational therapy can help children learn to better control motor functions, perform independent self-care, and adjust to mobility aids and necessary medical equipment. Emotional therapy and support groups may help children and families to adjust to life with special needs.
Birth Injury Financial Hardship and Support
There are many federal and state programs in place that may help families of children with birth injuries to receive the assistance needed to provide care and a high quality of life. Social Security assistance, birth injury disability grants, and Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program aid may all be available to qualifying families. Education programs are also available to ensure that all children with disabilities have access to the special education and early intervention programs that are necessary to foster learning and development.
Birth Injury Malpractice Claims
If birth injuries were a result of medical malpractice or negligence, an experienced birth injury attorney can assist families in taking the steps that will be necessary to file a successful birth injury malpractice claim. Birth injury attorneys can help families to receive the compensation that is needed to ensure lifelong care and treatment for children suffering from conditions caused by birth injuries. Birth injury attorneys can also help families hold hospitals and physicians accountable for negligent actions that have caused birth injuries.
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“Birth Injury.” Stanford Children’s Health. Stanford Children’s Health, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 29 Jan. 2015. http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=birth-injury-90-P02340>
“Causes and Risk Factors of Cerebral Palsy.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Jan. 2015. Web. 29 Jan. 2015. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/causes.html
Nath, Rahul, Nirupama Kumar, et al. “Risk Factors at Birth for Permanent Obstetric Brachial Plexus Injury and Associated Osseous Deformities.” ISRN Pediatrics (2012). National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Web. 29 Jan. 2015. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3302058/