The birth of a new baby should be an exciting time for parents and parents usually spend a good amount of time finding the best doctors who will help to bring their baby into the world safely. That doctor will provide medical care to both the mother and the baby for the nine months of pregnancy during routine check-ups and then will deliver that baby as safely as possible.
There are too many situations in which a baby is born with a birth defect that was undiagnosed during the pregnancy and there are also babies born with a birth injury that was sustained during labor and delivery. There are some situations that are not within the control of the physician, but there is no reason for a birth injury to ever be sustained because of medical negligence.
Birth Injury vs. Birth Defect
There is often confusion as to what the difference is between a birth injury and a birth defect. A birth defect is an actual health problem that occurs when the baby is developing in utero. Birth defects can range from minor to severe and examples include a heart murmur, Down Syndrome, cleft palate, spina bifida or another medical condition.
There are some instances in which the birth defect is caused by an outside factor. There are certain medications that when taken during pregnancy, could cause the baby to be born with a birth defect. These birth defects could have been prevented if the physician had not prescribed that medication to the woman while she was pregnant.
A birth injury is a health problem that the baby is born with and usually, the injury is preventable. Common examples of birth injuries that are preventable are caused by:
- Giving the wrong type of wrong amount of medication to the mother during pregnancy or labor
- Not properly monitoring the baby’s fetal heartbeat for any signs of distress
- Failure to perform an emergency cesarean surgery
- Improper handling and use of birth-assisting tools, including forceps or a vacuum extraction tool
- Improperly pulling or twisting the baby during delivery
There are many reasons why a medical professional can make a mistake that causes harm to your child, including being tired, not having enough experience or being inattentive. If the doctor has enough medical experience with deliveries, they should be able to avoid a difficult delivery. Most birth injuries are the result of a difficult labor.
There are also birth injuries that are preventable if the size of the baby was properly monitored during the pregnancy. Doctors should be able to tell if the baby will be able to fit through the birth canal. Birth injuries that can be caused by a difficult labor include brain injuries, such as cerebral palsy, and Erb’s palsy.
There are also examples of medical negligent that occur even before the delivery of the baby. If the doctor did not provide the pregnant mother with the proper information regarding vitamins and nutrition, the baby could end up being malnourished or underweight. The doctor should also make sure that they perform the appropriate tests during the pregnancy, such as checking to see if the mother has group B strep.
Birth injuries are incredibly serious and can completely alter your entire life. It is important to contact a doctor as soon as you can if you believe that your baby has suffered a birth injury. If immediate medical attention is given to your child, it may reduce the long-term consequences for your child.
A birth injury can lead to many other types of medical problems, including:
- Bones not developing properly
- Cognitive impairment
- Decreased and/or lack of nerve sensations
- Emotional and psychological problems
- Emotional impairment
- Osteoarthritis and joint dysfunctions
- Reduced strength
Cerebral Palsy and Birth Injuries
When your child suffers from any type of birth injury, it is going to be devastating. Cerebral palsy is one of the most severe medical disorders that is the result of a birth injury. Cerebral palsy (CP) will usually cause disabilities that are lifelong. There is no cure for CP and the medical costs associated with this medical problem are usually a lot more than most families can afford.
There are many reasons as to why a birth injury can lead to the baby developing CP, including a doctor who fails to:
- Detect maternal and/or fetal distress, and failure to perform an emergency caesarean section
- Detect umbilical cord problems, including a prolapsed umbilical cord
- Detect, diagnose, and treat maternal infections
- Monitor the fetal heartbeat properly
- Properly use birth-assisting tools during childbirth
Costs Associated with a Birth Injury
Birth injuries can cause complications that will last throughout the child’s entire life and they will usually need to have consistent medical treatment and rehabilitation. The costs associated with the treatment will depend on how severe their injury is, but can range from several thousands of dollars to over a million dollars throughout their life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a child who has CP will have a lifetime costs of around $1 million, a child who suffers from vision impairments will usually pay around $500,000 in their lifetime and a child who suffers hearing loss because of a birth injury will have lifetime costs around $400,000.
If your child suffered a birth injury that was the result of medical negligence, the doctor, medical staff or hospital may be held responsible for damages. It is in your best interest to contact a proficient birth injury attorney to help you with your case.