Labor and delivery can be difficult for any baby to experience, as he or she must pass through the birth canal and take that enormous step of transitioning from the womb to the outside world. While most babies make it through without major physical injuries, others are not so fortunate. Some babies experience serious birth trauma that can lead to lasting injuries or even permanent disabilities.
If your son or daughter experienced trauma at birth, do not wait to talk to us. Was the injury preventable? Was proper care really provided? These are questions that an experienced Maryland birth trauma lawyer can answer. At the Law Firm of Michael H. Bereston, we offer a free initial consultation to talk to you about your child’s injuries, how they occurred, and whether malpractice may have been to blame. With 30 years of trial experience and profound medical knowledge, Michael Bereston is prepared to provide the level of representation and support that you need.
Seek answers and accountability by calling (410) 220-6581 for a free birth trauma case review. From our offices in Annapolis, we serve all of Maryland and take on cases across the country.
What Causes Birth Trauma?
In some cases, birth trauma occurs in spite of mother and baby receiving the best care during labor and delivery. In others, however, it can be linked directly to negligence or malpractice. In handling your case, attorney Michael Bereston will be determining whether the injuries have occurred if the doctor/nurse/facility had provided standard care.
The following are examples of negligence or wrongdoing that can cause birth trauma:
- Misuse of forceps or vacuum extractor
- C-section errors
- Mismanagement of shoulder dystocia or breech presentation
- Failure to diagnose macrosomia (large infant) or cephalopelvic disproportion (infant too large to pass safely through the birth canal)
- Improper handling of newborn after delivery
Injuries & Disabilities Caused by Birth Trauma
Birth trauma can take on various forms and may cause:
- Paralysis: If an infant suffers a traumatic spinal cord injury during childbirth, he or she may become paralyzed. This might occur when a doctor uses excessive force or rotates the infant’s trunk improperly. An infant spinal cord injury may also result from improper use of assistive birth devices, such as forceps or vacuum extractors. Depending on the nature and severity of the injury, the infant may sustain temporary or permanent partial or total paralysis.
- Bell’s Palsy (Facial Paralysis): Bell’s palsy causes sudden onset muscle weakness, typically affecting one side of the face. Also known as facial paralysis, Bell’s palsy can be extremely alarming for parents. However, in most cases, infant facial paralysis is temporary. However, Bell’s palsy can lead to certain complications, such as impaired taste and tear production, as well as localized pain, headaches, dizziness, and difficulties in making facial expressions. In rare cases, Bell’s palsy can lead to permanent effects.
- Broken Bones: An infant’s bones are not as hard as an adult’s, meaning they are more likely to break. If a doctor applies too much force or improperly uses an assistive birth device, the infant can suffer broken bones. Common infant fractures include broken clavicles, legs, ankles, hips, wrists, arms, backs, and necks. While most fractures heal completely with the right treatment, if the bone does not set correctly, it can lead to lasting complications and, in severe cases, permanent disability.
- Facial Lacerations: Facial lacerations are a fairly common type of birth injury. They often occur when a medical professional uses an assistive birth device, such as a vacuum extractor or forceps, to aid in delivery. While most infant facial lacerations are superficial and will heal with time, others can be more severe and may lead to permanent scarring. If facial lacerations are serious, proper medical treatment is necessary to prevent infection.
- Severe Bruising: Some bruising is not uncommon in any childbirth; however, severe bruising could indicate that a medical professional was negligent during the delivery process. Using excessive force when delivering a baby or improperly using forceps or a vacuum extractor can lead to severe bruising. While bruising typically does not have any lasting effects, it can be a sign of a more serious injury, such as a fracture or internal damage. If your baby sustains severe bruising during childbirth, make sure that he or she is properly checked for injuries by a medical professional.
- Maternal Hemorrhage: Maternal hemorrhage, often referred to as postpartum hemorrhage, refers to excessive bleeding experienced by the mother after childbirth. Maternal hemorrhage is very dangerous and can lead to death if proper treatment is not immediately obtained. Common risk factors for postpartum hemorrhaging include placental abruption, placenta previa, an enlarged uterus, delivery by cesarean section (C-section), preeclampsia/gestational hypertension, prolonged labor, maternal infection, obesity, and multiple births.
- Cephalohematoma: Cephalohematoma occurs when damaged blood vessels between an infant’s scalp and skull release blood, which then pools and forms a mass beneath the skin on the head. Cephalohematoma is not particularly rare, nor is it necessarily dangerous, as the brain is not affected. Cephalohematoma will typically heal on its own. However, it’s important to note that cephalohematoma increases your baby’s risk of developing jaundice and anemia, both of which can have serious effects.
- Hypoxia (Oxygen Deprivation): Oxygen deprivation, known as hypoxia, is one of the most common serious birth injuries. Hypoxia refers to a critical decrease in oxygen flow to the body’s tissues, including the brain. This can result in severe, permanent brain damage and other complications, such as cerebral palsy, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), and more. Hypoxic birth injuries are often caused by medical negligence; a doctor may fail to order a timely C-section or an attending nurse may fail to monitor and/or react to signs of fetal distress. Sadly, the consequences can be severe and, in the most tragic of cases, fatal.
- Brain Damage: Infant brain damage is often caused by lack of oxygen to the brain’s tissues (hypoxia). This typically occurs when complications during labor or delivery cause the baby’s oxygen supply to be cut off for a prolonged period of time. Often, a doctor’s failure to monitor signs of fetal distress contributes to or causes these types of birth injuries. In any case, an infant who sustains fetal brain damage will likely face a lifetime of cognitive disabilities and developmental challenges.
- Cerebral Palsy: Cerebral palsy is a non-degenerative disorder that affects the muscles and, therefore, a person’s ability to move. It is not uncommon for cerebral palsy to be caused by a birth injury, specifically oxygen deprivation (hypoxia) during labor and/or delivery. Cerebral palsy affects individuals in different ways; your child may have relatively minor disabilities or severe motor skill impairments. If your child displays any signs of cerebral palsy, schedule an appointment with a qualified medical professional as soon as possible. If your child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy after a difficult pregnancy, labor, or delivery, it is possible that he or she is the victim of medical negligence.
Put 30+ Years of Experience in Your Corner
Your child deserves the best care. Get the financial compensation you need to provide for this and your other expenses and losses by involving a competent lawyer who will fight for the settlement or award you deserve.
Call (410) 220-6581 or contact us online to get started. Initial consultations are always free. Call today!