Medical negligence during childbirth can result in chronic conditions that emotionally and financially drain a new family. Whether during a cesarean section or natural birth, an obstetrician’s poor preparation can lead to oxygen deprivation and nerve damage, along with many other life-threatening complications. As an expectant parent, it is important to understand the most common, preventable injuries your child could suffer due to a lack of foresight, preparation, and proper care.
Brachial Plexus Injury
The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that feed the neck, shoulders, arms, and hands. It originates at the upper spine, controlling movement of the arms. When the brachial plexus is damaged, any combination of symptoms from mild pain to permanent disability may occur. These injuries can be caused during a difficult delivery in which the doctor uses forceps to maneuver the infant through the birth canal. The stretching of the nerves, called neuropraxia, is the least severe case. More serious injuries occur when the nerves stretch until they actually tear or rupture. Paralysis happens when the root of the nerves completely separates from the spine.
Symptoms of brachial plexus injury include the following:
- The infant presents a lack of movement in the arms or hands.
- The infant’s arm is bent and held stiffly against the body.
- There is no moro reflex on the affected limb. (The moro reflex is an age-appropriate involuntary reflex common to newborns and babies.)
- The hand on the affected side has a weaker grip than the unaffected side.
The technical medical name for oxygen deprivation is hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). “Hypoxia” refers to a condition in which only a small amount of oxygen is reaching the brain. When there is no oxygen available at all, “anoxia” occurs. A medical professional’s failure to follow protocol and properly observe fetal heart monitors during delivery can result in trauma. It is not uncommon for babies to recover fully from hypoxia or anoxia due to the resiliency of their young bodies. However, if a crucial section of the brain is deprived of oxygen for too long, long-term issues may arise. Developmental delays, such as vision, hearing, and speech impairment, may be present as the child grows. Partial paralysis, cerebral palsy, and mental retardation may result as well.
Causes of oxygen deprivation include:
- Trauma and fetal distress during delivery
- Problems involving the placenta, which supplies the infant with nutrients needed to survive
- Abnormally close contractions
- Prolapsed umbilical cord
- Preeclampsia and eclampsia (blood pressure abnormalities)
Other Common Injuries
- Bone fractures may result from particularly difficult deliveries. The most common is a fractured clavicle (collar bone).
- Spinal cord damage may occur during a difficult birth. Paralysis and neurological issues are both severe results of spinal nerve or meningeal rips and tears.
- Facial paralysis can range from mild to severe. This is often first observed when an infant cries and usually heals naturally over time.
- Other types of birth injuries that tend to self-heal include cephalohematoma (when blood collects over a section of the skull) and caput succedaneum (when parts of the scalp swell and appear bruised due to delivery trauma).
Gladstein Law Firm – Birth Injury Attorney in Kentucky
The team at Gladstein Law Firm understands that pursuing a birth injury lawsuit can be exceptionally difficult and emotional for families. Disabilities may require years of medical expenses, including in-home medical care and vehicle or home modifications. The emotional adjustment to a birth injury may also cost you in legal fees, counseling expenses, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering. Attorney Seth Gladstein and his dedicated legal team will work tirelessly to determine the best path to recovery through your birth injury case. Contact us today for a free consultation.