Having a baby is one of the most exciting times in a person's life. However, things can take a serious turn when a birth injury occurs.
On average, 28,000 birth injuries occur in the United States each year. That is approximately 75 birth injuries per day, according to recent data. Sadly, many parents do not know their child has a birth injury until several years after the child is born.
Because many of the injuries affect motor skills, they can be hard to detect in infants. Many times, parents do not notice an injury has occurred until a child misses developmental milestones. Five of the most injuries include:
- Hypoxia: Hypoxia occurs when a baby does not receive enough oxygen to the brain for a few seconds up to 1 to 2 minutes. This can happen during gestation, birth or after delivery. Commonly, a baby will show signs of coughing, trouble breathing, rapid heart rate and changes in skin color. Because brain cells die without oxygen, a baby can have developmental problems if oxygen levels are not restored.
- Anoxia: Anoxia occurs when a baby is deprived of oxygen for four to five minutes. The effects of anoxia can be much more severe from hypoxia. Symptoms can get worse depending on how long a child goes without oxygen. Sadly, a baby can lose significant brain function and can be at a higher risk of death.
- Shoulder dystocia: This injury occurs when a mother's pubic bone prevents a baby's shoulders from passing through the birth canal during delivery. Generally, this happens with larger babies or if the mother is obese. This can result in having to fracture the baby's clavicle bone or tearing the nerves in their upper shoulder, which can significantly reduce arm movement.
- Brachial plexus tear: This occurs when the shoulder nerves-- that connect the spinal cord to the arm--are damaged. Typically, this occurs from trauma during delivery or from inflammation in the womb. This can lead to "Erb's palsy," which can completely prevent a child from using his or her arm.
- Cerebral palsy: One of the most common birth injuries that affects around half a million children each year is cerebral palsy. This injury is commonly associated with stiff muscles, difficulty walking and involuntary muscle movements. It commonly occurs from an infection in the brain, lack of oxygen to the brain and gene mutations. Sadly, there is not a treatment for this movement disorder.
Other common birth injuries include fractures, infections and broken bones. It is important to contact your doctor immediately if you suspect your child has sustained an injury.
Birth injuries can have life-long consequences and cost thousands of dollars in medical bills. If your child sustained a birth injury, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your options and retain the compensation you deserve.