Each year, more than 28,000 birth injuries are reported in the United States. Some of the most severe types of birth injuries that babies can suffer from are brain injuries during birth. Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that brain injuries are the leading cause of disability and death in children throughout the United States. Babies, in particular, are at an increased risk for sustaining life-threatening brain injuries due to the fact that their skulls are not completely formed yet. The underdeveloped state of the skull, particularly at birth, makes it more likely that even small incidents can result in life-altering consequences.
Brain injuries often have a detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of the affected infants and growing children. Not only do brain injuries during birth present immediate challenges, but they can lead to long-term disabilities that require frequent and continual treatment. When a baby sustains a brain injury during childbirth, it is crucial that their family act diligently to protect their legal victim rights. The parents of a baby birth injury that occurred because of a medical mistake or another form of medical malpractice may be able to collect compensation to help cover the costs of ongoing medical expenses and various other financial burdens associated with these injuries.
Our medical malpractice attorneys at The Malpractice Group wholeheartedly believe that families deserve compensation after these tragic and unexpected incidents to help with future medical help and life care for the affected child. Families whose babies have been injured should not be forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on medical treatment and care their child needs as a result of a negligent medical professional. To ensure families don’t suffer financially for these injuries, our birth injury attorneys provide skilled and effective legal representation to the affected families to ensure they get the maximum amount of compensation. Contact The Malpractice Group at your earliest convenience to explore legal options available for you.
General Causes of Newborn Brain Injuries
Newborn brain injuries can be caused by either trauma to the brain and skull of a baby or due to a lack of oxygen at birth. Many neonatal brain injuries are devastating and require extensive medical treatment. Regrettably, various factors contribute to newborn brain injuries. Some of the leading causes of these injuries include:
- Forceps and Vacuum Extractor Injuries: Forceps and vacuum extractors can be extremely helpful in guiding babies out of the birthing canal. In many cases, the use of birthing tools mitigates the need to have to perform a C-section to deliver a baby. The doctors who use these tools must have extensive experience and training on proper techniques. Improper use of vacuum extractors and forceps can result in traumatic brain injuries, strokes, brain bleeds, and various other types of brain damage.
- Infections: There are instances where a mother has an infection that is passed to the child during the birthing process. In many cases, the transmission of the infection could have been prevented through the use of antibiotics, ensuring the vaginal delivery process is not prolonged, or by performing a C-section. Medical professionals must work to prevent infections shortly after birth and to render treatment for infections as soon as possible.
- Umbilical Cord Problems: Any complications that could cause the umbilical cord to become compressed or interrupt the flow of blood has the potential to cause a brain injury during delivery. There are a few complications involving the umbilical cord that can have a detrimental impact on a child. The first one is the prolapsed umbilical cord, which happens when it becomes wrapped around the neck of the baby. An umbilical cord that is too short, knotted, or infected can all inhibit the pathway of oxygen and flow flowing from the mother to the child. Furthermore, any partial or complete cut-off of the blood supply can be fatal.
- Placental Abruption: This dire situation occurs when the placenta tears away from the uterus. As the oxygen-rich blood travels from the mother to the baby through vessels in both the womb and the placenta, a tear can cause a significant problem in the blood’s ability to flow unobstructed.
- Uterine Rupture: When there are tears through the layers of the womb, it can cause severe hemorrhaging within the abdominal area of the mother. When this injury occurs, the baby can spill out into the mother. The massive blood loss the mother experiences can cause a drastic decrease in the amount of oxygen-rich blood that reaches the baby.
- Oligohydramnios: This complication indicates that there are low levels of amniotic fluids surrounding the baby. Not having an adequate amount of fluids surrounding the baby increases the risk of a compressed umbilical cord, which could reduce the flow of oxygen to the child. Additionally, oligohydramnios can result in meconium aspiration, which can cause respiratory distress.
- Premature Rupture of the Membranes/Premature Birth: When the water breaks before the mother goes into active labor, it can result in the compression or the prolapse of the umbilical cord. This condition can also lead to premature birth, which can cause a deprivation of oxygen due to the underdevelopment of the lungs. The increased dangers of infections also place the baby at risk for brain injuries during birth.
- Prolonged/Arrested Labor: Contractions during labor can cause enormous stress to a child in utero. The longer a child is subjected to these harsh conditions, the more likely they are to experience oxygen deprivation. The additional use of Pitocin and Cytotec during labor also increases the chances of a baby suffering an anoxic brain injury at birth.
- Placenta Previa: When the placenta grows too slow inside the uterus, partial or complete blocking of the mother’s cervix can occur. If this placenta remains partially or wholly covered later in pregnancy, a mother will need to deliver the child via C-section due to the bleeding risks associated with the condition. The dangers of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy are significantly increased in late-term pregnancy, which can result in permanent brain damages.
- Anesthesia Mistakes: Mistakes during the administration of anesthesia can cause a hypotensive crisis in the mother. When the mother’s blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level, it can cause a drastic decrease in oxygen-rich blood flowing to the baby. This can cause a deprivation of oxygen to the brain, which can cause devastating brain injuries.
- Fetal Strokes: When blood vessels in the brain of the baby become blocked or restricted, it can cause a damaging fetal stroke to occur. The risk of neonatal strokes is heightened through the use of vacuum extractors and forceps, which can cause oxygen deprivation. Quite often, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and strokes occur simultaneously.
- Abnormal Presentation: Babies who are not in the head-first position at birth are at a high risk of suffering head trauma, devastating severe brain bleeds, and problems related to the umbilical cords during vaginal delivery. When babies are in a transverse lie, face presentation, or breeched opposition, the natural birthing process can cause irreversible brain injuries.
- Preeclampsia/Eclampsia: Mothers who have preeclampsia during pregnancy experience increased blood pressure readings. When the blood pressure of the mother is too high, it can cause a decrease in the flow of blood to the baby. Factors associated with preeclampsia and eclampsia can cause damages and constrict vessels in the placenta, which can lead to decreased blood flow resulting in anoxic brain injury at birth.
If your baby suffered a brain injury during birth, it is imperative that doctors act quickly to prevent the progression of the damages. When doctors fail to address the problems in a timely and appropriate manner, it can lead to permanent disabilities and even fetal death. If this has happened to you or your baby in childbirth, call The Malpractice Group today to discuss your situation with a skilled lawyer who can help you determine if you have the right to file a lawsuit for the injuries and losses you and your baby have suffered as a result of the medical mistake or negligence.
Symptoms of a Brain Injury During Birth
Babies who suffer from brain injuries during the birthing process often exhibit various signs and symptoms. The type and severity of the injury will influence the symptoms the baby will experience. Some of the most common signs and symptoms that babies who suffer a brain injury during birth display include:
- Abnormal Temperament: Although crying and fussiness are normal at times, when babies inexplicably cry or act fussy without the ability to be consoled or comforted, it can indicate that a brain injury may have occurred. It is important to remember that, although these are key symptoms of a brain injury, an abnormal temperament without any other symptoms is not generally an indication of a brain injury.
- Abnormal Physical Appearance: Infants with birth brain injuries have some notable physical abnormalities. These babies are often born with misshapen facial features and can have a protruding forehead. In some cases, a deformed spine is present.
- Sensory Problems: Sensory problems are another standard indicator of a brain injury. Babies with brain injuries have problems focusing their eyes and maybe extremely sensitive to light and sound. Some babies can experience ringing in the ears.
- Missed Milestones/Developmental Delays: There are some cases where brain injury symptoms are not noticed until the child begins to grow. In these cases, as well as those with notable symptoms early on, infants may have challenges talking, walking, crawling, and sitting during the periods in which they normally should.
Babies who suffer from brain injuries not only experience the immediate impacts but continue to suffer from debilitating conditions well into adulthood. When babies suffer these catastrophic injuries as a result of a medical professional’s negligence, it is crucial that their families reach out to a birth injury attorney as soon as possible to protect their legal rights. Call The Malpractice Group today. We can help you.
The Diagnosis of a Brain Injury
There is a common misconception that head injuries and brain injuries are the same things. This is not always true. There are numerous cases where infants suffer head trauma that does not lead to brain damage. In order to classify a head injury as a brain injury, the injury to the head must have some impact on the brain. To determine if a baby suffered a brain injury, it is crucial for medical providers to follow the guidelines created by the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network.
First, infants are assessed through the use of the Glasgow Coma Scale. This scale is used to determine the state of consciousness. The scale ranges from 0 to 15. The lower the score, the more likely it is that a child will need to undergo a CT scan to check for a brain injury. CT scans provide a detailed image of the brain that can uncover whether a blood clot is present, there is bleeding on the brain, swelling, or other contusions.
In other cases, MRIs are used to diagnose brain injuries. MRIs are extremely useful for creating an in-depth view of the brain through the use of magnets and radio waves. These tests help physicians diagnose brain damage and determine the severity of the injuries impacting the child.
The Importance of a Timely Diagnosis and Intervention of a Brain Injury in Childbirth
Brain injuries during birth can have a lasting impact on the health and wellbeing of a child. The longer a child is exposed to oxygen deprivation to the brain, the more severe the injuries will become. For this reason, it is critical that doctors are able to recognize the signs and symptoms of these injuries as early as possible in order to begin treatment as soon as possible.
Babies who suffer hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) must receive hypothermia therapy within 6-hours of birth to improve the chances of recovering. This treatment works by slowing the spread of damaged brain cells through the rest of the brain, which reduces the extent and likelihood of permanent disabilities and complications like electrolyte and sugar imbalances, brain bleeds, poor perfusion, respiratory problems, and infections. If the medical team fails to provide this treatment, it can result in severe brain damage.
There are additional treatments for children who suffer from brain injuries during the birthing process as well. In many cases, children benefit immensely from the use of early intervention programs coupled with therapeutic interventions. Speech therapy, occupation therapy, and physical therapy can help strengthen muscles, improve coordination, and help address various other debilitating consequences of these injuries. Other injuries can require the use of medications and surgeries for both immediate and long-term relief.
Many children who suffer from brain injuries during the birthing process will go through various forms of cognitive and emotional rehabilitation. In order to address cognitive disabilities that may develop as the brain conditions to grow, babies and infants will go through treatment to help with:
- Listening skills
- Impulse reactions
- Emotional outbursts
Babies who do not receive timely and accurate treatment for brain injuries can suffer irreversible injuries that continue to impact their lives indefinitely. Families who are forced to endure these circumstances can pursue legal routes to obtain compensation from these negligent medical professionals.
The Long-Term Prognosis and Side Effects of Brain Injuries
Knowing the type and location of the brain injury will provide the best insight as to what type of complications a baby will face as they grow into adulthood. It is important to recognize that brain injuries are evolving. Head imaging will help study the different phases of the injuries to see whether there is any improvement or deterioration.
Imaging should be repeated over an extended period to determine the evolution of the injury and to determine the final extent of the damage. Children who suffer from brain injuries can deal with life-long impairments and debilitating conditions. If your child suffered a brain injury during birth, and you believe it was caused by medical malpractice, it is imperative that you reach out to a knowledgeable birth injury attorney as soon as possible. You may be able to obtain compensation to help cover the costs of short-term and long-term medical treatment your child will need throughout their life. Contact our The Malpractice Group today to discuss the circumstances surrounding your case.
The Malpractice Group Can Help You
Brain injuries during birth can result in the need for extensive and ongoing medical treatment. In some cases, babies are left with permanent disabilities that require the use of breathing machines, wheelchairs, and other medical equipment. The costs for the care of babies with these debilitating injuries are substantial. If your baby sustained a brain injury during birth, it is imperative that you seek the legal guidance of a reputable legal team as soon as possible. You may be entitled to compensation to help cover the costs of medical treatment, lost wages, and various other damages resulting from your baby’s injuries.
Our personal injury lawyers at The Malpractice Group of WVFO have decades of experience helping families obtain the maximum amount of compensation attainable for their claims. We understand the difficulties victims and their families endure after sustaining devastating birth injuries. When babies suffer birth injuries, due to the negligence of medical professionals, our negligence attorneys help them get the justice they rightfully deserve. Not only do we fully believe that families should never be forced to endure stacking financial consequences due to the negligence of medical professionals, but we strive to ensure these reckless practitioners are not able to continue harming others. Contact our law firm at your earliest convenience. Call (312) 561-4324 to schedule a free no-obligation consultation with our medical malpractice attorneys to discuss legal options available to you.