How Does a Traumatic Birth Affect a Baby?

newborn infant

A traumatic birth can injury a baby physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Birth injuries include cerebral palsy, brachial plexus injury, kernicterus, C-section injuries, Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), and bruising or lacerations from forceps and are caused by negligent medical mistakes that could have been prevented.

Common Birth Injuries

Birth injuries may be minor or catastrophic. If your baby suffered during childbirth due to negligence, you deserve compensation. Here are some common birth injuries:

Cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition caused by lack of oxygen to the brain, which leads to impairments in motor skills and muscle formation. Effects include abnormal movements and muscle spasms. There may also be additional complications such as learning disabilities, cognitive impairment, speech difficulties, low bone density, lung disease, and other issues.

Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is another form of cerebral palsy that causes repetitive movements and irregular movement, unpredictable patterns. Ataxic cerebral palsy is characterized by issues with coordination and balance.

Perinatal asphyxia

Perinatal asphyxia happens during birth when the infant does not receive enough oxygen. This could be due to restricted blood flow or lack of oxygen in the blood. Additional causes include genetic abnormalities, pressure being placed on the umbilical cord, or an infection. This could also lead to cerebral palsy.

Brachial plexus injuries

The brachial plexus consists of a bundle of nerves that are responsible for movement and sensation. It runs from the spinal cord, down the neck, to each arm. These nerves can be damaged during childbirth if the neck and shoulder get pulled apart quickly or abruptly with a lot of force. These nerves could get damaged or even be torn off from the spinal column.

When brachial plexus damage causes weakness or paralysis in the lower arm, wrist, or hand, it is called Kumpke’s palsy.

Erb’s palsy

Erb’s palsy happens when there is damage to the brachial plexus that causes damage to the arm so that it lacks sensation and/or strength. In severe cases, the arm may be paralyzed.

Additional nerve injuries

Nerves can be stretched, damaged, and under extreme circumstances, ripped or torn during childbirth. The nerves that start in the brain stem called cranial nerves can be damaged by stretching during childbirth, which could lead to paralysis.

A facial nerve could be damaged by forceps compressing this nerve or when the baby comes out of the birth canal.

Skull fracture

As the baby’s head is under pressure as it exits the womb, this could be intense enough to cause a skull fracture. Birthing instruments can also cause a fracture. Fortunately, most fractures will heal; however, if a hematoma happens, (bleeding under the skull) a doctor will need to drain this fluid from the baby’s brain.

The pressure that the baby’s head is under as it exits the womb can be great enough to cause a fracture. Forces from the birth canal and from the mother’s pelvic bones can sometimes cause a fracture.

Brain damage

While rare, brain damage can occur during childbirth. A baby could have a cephalohematoma, or bleeding under the skull. Fortunately, this is usually treatable and does not typically lead to permanent damage.

Other types of injuries do cause brain damage, including hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). This is where there is lack of oxygen to the infant’s brain during childbirth. This is also a common cause of cerebral palsy. If the lack of oxygen gets to a certain low point, it can lead to periventricular leukomalacia, which is where white brain matter is lost. This brain matter is responsible for motor functions.

Wrongful death

Wrongful death, while also rare, does happen. It happens when an inaction or action leads directly to an infant’s death. If the death could have been prevented, it could be called wrongful death if you are able to prove negligence.

Infants die every year due to birth-related injuries. HIE, when severe enough, can lead to death. Other causes of wrongful death include hemorrhaging, bleeding in the brain, newborn jaundice, and severe spinal cord damage.

If your child was injured during childbirth, you deserve justice and compensation. Contact our firm online or by calling (718) 866-3664 to schedule a consultation to discuss your legal options.

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