The miracle of childbirth is meant to be a joyous occasion. But for some families, it turns tragic in an instant if the baby suffers a birth injury. These potentially devastating injuries can have lifelong impacts. As expecting parents, it’s critical to understand the risks, recognize signs of trouble, and know your options if the unthinkable occurs.
Being informed on birth injury facts empowers you to better protect your baby. While you hope for an uncomplicated delivery, it helps to ready yourself for any possibility. This knowledge spans from preventing errors, spotting red flags, and pursuing justice and care if your child is affected.
Here are 7 essential facts all expecting moms and dads should know about these childbirth complications:
1) What Qualifies as a Birth Injury:
A birth injury refers to any damage inflicted on the baby during the birthing process. It may result from:
- Errors made by medical staff
- Improper use of medications, tools, or procedures
- Failure to adequately monitor the baby
- Delays in delivering when in distress
- Excessive force used during delivery
Some common birth trauma includes:
- Bone fractures
- Nerve damage (to the spine or brachial plexus nerves)
- Brain bleeds or injuries
- Deprivation of oxygen
- Cerebral palsy
Even a seemingly routine vaginal delivery under normal circumstances can suddenly take a dangerous turn resulting in harm. Babies born via C-section are also vulnerable during the procedure and recovery.
If negligence or mistakes by a doctor, nurse, or hospital contributed to the injury, the family may have grounds to pursue an average settlement for birth injury through a medical malpractice lawsuit. This becomes especially pertinent considering the extensive, expensive care often needed for the child’s lifetime.
2) Knowing the Main Risk Factors:
While any expecting parent could end up blindsided by a birth injury, certain risk factors increase the odds. Being aware of these applications offers a chance to take preventative measures and prepare.
Some leading risk factors include:
- Use of vacuum extraction or forceps during delivery
- Extended labor, especially over 24 hours
- Very large babies over 8 lbs 13 oz or 4,000 grams
- Breech positioning
- Mother’s small pelvis size
- Mother’s existing health condition, like gestational diabetes or high blood pressure
- Placental problems
- Umbilical cord issues like prolapse or compression
- Premature birth before 37 weeks
- Doctor attempting a rushed delivery
- Previous birth injury
If any of these scenarios apply, have a frank discussion with your OB doctor beforehand. Ask about precautions to avoid birth trauma, necessary interventions, and preparations for a higher-risk delivery. Make your wishes and concerns known to reduce the likelihood of errors when labor begins.
3) Recognizing Signs of Birth Injury:
No parent ever wants to fathom their newborn facing dire health struggles. But acting quickly if problems arise could mitigate the damage. Be vigilant in looking for any of these common signs of potential birth injury right after delivery:
- Broken bones or dislocated joints
- Bruising on the head or bleeding within the skull
- Facial paralysis, possibly signaling nerve damage
- Difficulty breathing or seizures
- Marks around the neck indicating umbilical cord compression
- Weak cry or lack of strong movement on one side
- Need for oxygen or admission to the NICU
- Poor muscle tone or inability to nurse
Don’t downplay any unusual symptoms post-birth as normal side effects. Speak up immediately if anything seems “off” about your baby’s appearance, breathing, movements, or responsiveness. Timeliness is critical for effective emergency treatment.
4) Seeking Medical Malpractice Compensation:
Coping with a child’s long-term medical problems and special needs stemming from a birth injury represents a massive undertaking for parents. Sky-high costs quickly amass for:
- Extended hospitalization and ICU care
- Surgeries and rehabilitation
- Ongoing tests and specialist visits
- Prescription medications and equipment
- In-home nursing care
- Special education and therapies
These staggering expenses could destroy a family’s finances without adequate compensation. If medical negligence caused the birth trauma, pursuing an average settlement for birth injury through a malpractice lawsuit provides recourse to cover the child’s current and future medical costs.
5) Quick Medical Malpractice Case Timelines:
If contemplating legal action for birth injury malpractice, a shortened case timeline applies compared to other personal injury claims. Two key laws impact the deadlines:
- Statute of Limitations: Each state has a time limit on filing medical malpractice lawsuits. It ranges from 1 to 3 years in most states. The clock starts ticking on the baby’s birth date, not when an injury gets diagnosed later.
- Statute of Repose: This is a strict cutoff on when cases must be filed, regardless of circumstances. Around half of states impose these limits via repose laws capping cases at ages 3 to 10.
These tight restrictions leave only a small window for injury lawyers to build a case for trial. Contact them immediately so they can order medical records, consult experts, assess errors made, and file before the case expires. The sooner in the process, the stronger the claim.
6) Birth Injury Prevention Tips:
While some birth injuries arise unexpectedly, certain precautions during pregnancy and delivery can help minimize risks:
- Get regular prenatal checkups to catch any emerging issues
- Take birthing classes to prepare
- Have delivery at a reputable hospital with a Level 3 NICU
- Insist on continuous fetal monitoring for signs of distress
- Express preferences like avoiding induction drugs or vacuum extraction
- Request C-section for suspected large baby or other problems
- If multiples, ask about staggered deliveries if distress occurs
- Have a pediatrician present at high-risk deliveries
- Monitor for cord issues like prolapse and compression
- Speak up immediately if concerned about any symptoms post-delivery
Also, research OB doctor credentials like experience with complicated births and malpractice history. Switch providers if your pregnancy qualifies as high-risk.
7) Finding the Right Birth Injury Lawyer:
If considering a birth injury lawsuit, don’t go it alone. Medical malpractice cases face strict procedural hurdles. An accomplished birth injury attorney’s insight proves invaluable. They know how to secure evidence before it disappears, establish valid claims, demonstrate duty of care breaches, prove causation, quantify damages, negotiate strategically with insurers, and try complex cases in court if needed.
When selecting legal counsel, seek an attorney with specific expertise in handling birth and delivery negligence claims. Ask about case results securing substantial verdicts and settlements for children and families. The right lawyer compassionately guides clients through the legal process while working relentlessly to obtain fair compensation for the child’s care.
Preparing for a new baby’s arrival ranks among life’s most exciting adventures. While you hope for a smooth delivery, it pays to understand the realities of potential birth injuries. Arm yourself with knowledge of the risks, signs of trouble, and options if the unforeseen occurs. Stay vigilant during your pregnancy and labor. And don’t hesitate to speak up or seek legal help if needed to protect your precious child.