Seattle Neurological Birth Injury Attorneys
What to do if a Baby Sustains Birth-Related Neurological Injuries
Having a child is one of the biggest moments of a parent's life, and there's a lot to worry about, even if it's not the first child in the family. One of the things families don't want to worry about is the possibility that their baby is injured during the birth process. Unfortunately, neurological birth injuries are more common than people would like to think, and they can affect the rest of the child's quality of life.
Birth injuries vary quite widely in severity and type, but because neurological injuries affect the nervous system – meaning primarily the brain or spine – they can have the most severe consequences. Sometimes these problems correct themselves within the first year of the baby's life, but sometimes the injuries sustained at birth are permanent and remain with the child for the rest of their life. And all by the time it's barely begun!
Although they affect the nervous system, neurological birth injuries can occur when the attending doctor doesn't properly assess the birth situation, isn't prepared for problems and issues that arise, and therefore they don't adequately address complications during the delivery.
Some of the most common types of neurological birth injuries include:
- Injuries from forceps. Forceps are a type of clamp that's attached to the baby's head and used to direct and maneuver the baby's head out of the birth canal, speeding along the delivery and in the best situations, eliminating the possibility of complications. However, when forceps are incorrectly used they can apply too much pressure to the sensitive scalp and brain of the child.
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage. These are blood vessels that burst in the baby's eye during the delivery. This injury is quite common and while it often corrects itself quite quickly, it can be an indication of further damage caused inside the brain.
- Caput succedaneum. This is when the baby's scalp is bruised during the delivery, or something has caused it to swell.
- Cephalohematoma. This is when blood starts to collect under the baby's periosteum, delicate tissues that cover the fragile bones of the head, and it's often caused by a birth injury.
- Paralysis of the face. This can occur when too much pressure is applied to the baby's face during delivery, either by forceps or another tool.
- Erb's palsy. This is one of the biggest neurological birth injuries that can occur in infants. This condition is caused by the stretching or tearing of the nerves that control the arms, hands, and fingers, causing damage to those nerves that can sometimes be permanent.
When an infant is born with a condition or injury, it's very important to be able to determine whether it's a birth defect or a birth injury. Birth defects are caused by factors before or during pregnancy, whether it's alcohol or drug abuse or a genetic disorder (just two factors of birth defects). Birth injuries on the other hand, arise from difficult deliveries that see one or more complications. While sometimes birth injuries are not the fault of anyone at the scene, other times they are and could have been prevented.
Responsible parties and proving fault
In neurological birth injury cases, there could be a number of parties at fault. While it might seem as though it's easiest to blame the doctor, they might not always be the one at fault. Any one on the team of doctors and nurses involved in the birth might be held responsible, as may other care providers such as interns, residents, techs, and nursing aids. If the doctor belongs to a private practice, that practice may also be deemed partially responsible in certain situations. If medication had been given during the birth, and that medication was what caused the birth injury, even the manufacturer of the medication may be named in the suit.
If you or a loved one has recently had a baby, and the infant was born with neurological birth injuries, it's important that you speak to one of our experienced Seattle birth injury lawyers here at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. today. There are many burdens of proof on the plaintiff in birth injury cases, and after reviewing your case, we'll be able to help you determine if you can prove them. First the plaintiff will have to prove what the appropriate standard of care in birth cases is, and that the doctor or team failed to provide that established standard of care. Of course, it has to also be proven that the child did in fact sustain a birth injury, and that the injury would not have been sustained had the doctor or team administered proper care.
Birth injuries can be difficult to prove in court and due to their very nature, neurological birth injuries can be even harder to prove. Don't feel as though you have to do it alone. If you or someone you know has suffered due to a neurological birth injury after a new birth in the family, call our compassionate Seattle injury attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S at (888) 228-3860 today.
- Subconjunctival Hemorrhage - MedlinePlus
- Caput Succedaneum - MedlinePlus
- Neurological Neonatal Birth Injuries: A Literature Review