Helping People Understand Causes Of Birth Injury

Whereas past generations were led to believe that "birth defects" were unavoidable accidents of nature, we now know that human negligence often plays a key role in birth injuries. Genetic irregularities are often diagnosable during pregnancy, and preventable injuries caused by mistakes of caregivers are avoidable.

Naturally, parents seek answers as to why their babies have been harmed before, during or immediately after birth, and want to know how to help them. An experienced birth injury attorney can be a valuable source of information and advocacy for parents and for their children who were harmed by errors during pregnancy, labor, delivery or postnatal care.

Understanding Causes Of Birth Injury Is Key To Success

It is important to understand the various causes of birth injury that can result from negligence during pregnancy, labor, delivery or postnatal care.

  • During pregnancy: Birth injuries often occur because of neglected pregnancy complications. When OB-GYN professionals fail to respond appropriately to indications of risk, this may be a clear sign of negligence. For example, an attentive doctor may prescribe bed rest for a mother or plan for a scheduled Cesarean section. A negligent obstetrician's failure to act can be the reason for a number of serious birth injuries, including brain injury, Erb's palsy and birth infections. Furthermore, a pregnant woman should be fully informed as to any identifiable fetal defects and offered all prenatal diagnostic opportunities by her obstetrician. Failure to diagnose or alert pregnant mothers of genetic or congenital defects such as Tay-Sachs, cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome or debilitating hydrocephalus can be cause for a wrongful birth lawsuit.
  • During labor: The most common cause of birth injuries is unrecognized or unaddressed fetal distress during labor or delivery. Most hospitals have systems in place designed to monitor the state of the fetus during this critical time period. One type of fetal monitor wraps around the mid-section of a woman in labor. Another type is inserted onto the scalp of the fetus. Sensors keep track of the unborn baby's heart rate and response to the mother's contractions. Failure to take proper action when fetal distress occurs can result in hypoxic brain injuries from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy and result in cerebral palsy.
  • During delivery: A baby's shoulder can become lodged against a bony prominence in the mother during delivery resulting in shoulder dystocia. If this condition is managed properly, the baby will be born without injury. But when a doctor tries to force the baby out or nurses try to push it out, the nerve structure emanating from the spine in the area of the neck, through the shoulder and into the arm, can be injured, resulting in a permanent inability of the baby to use that arm, known as Erb's palsy. Also, permanent injury to the brain can be caused by an umbilical cord wrapped around a baby's neck. A prolapsed cord can occur if doctors fail to recognize the condition. (A mother may also end up with sphincter injuries when a doctor fails to perform a proper episiotomy.)
  • During the postnatal period: Newborn babies sometimes suffer irreparable harm due to undiagnosed or untreated respiratory or blood chemistry problems. Improper intubation, failure to treat poorly developed lungs or the failure to recognize or treat elevated bilirubin levels can result in permanent harm.