While giving birth can be the most natural thing in the world for women, and certainly humans have been managing for millennia, there are certain situations in which birth injuries can occur. A birth injury is a physical injury that occurs to an infant due to the process of being born—whether because of normal risks and complications, or because of medical errors. If you live in south Florida and feel that your infant has suffered injuries at birth from medical malpractice, you may want to contact a Broward personal injury lawyer or a Palm Beach personal injury attorney for a consultation.
Certain situations can increase the risk of birth injuries; for example, babies born before 37 weeks gestation are more fragile, and therefore more likely to suffer injury in the birth process. On the other side of the coin, babies that are greater than 8 pounds, 13 ounces are also more likely to be injured during birth. Difficult or prolonged labor is also a factor, along with abnormal birthing presentation (such as breech delivery). Finally, if the size and shape of the mother’s pelvis is not adequate for vaginal delivery, injuries can occur.
Some injuries occur more often than others; while not all birth injuries are serious, it is important to know what they are, and whether or not the symptoms you’re seeing in your child are indicative of a more serious condition.
The most common birth injury is a clavicle fracture. The clavicle, also called the collarbone, connects the chest to the shoulder; in breech births or those in which there is unusual difficulty in delivering the baby’s shoulder, these fractures tend to happen more frequently. Fortunately, broken clavicles heal quickly, and rarely require any extensive treatment—at most, typically they require little more than strapping the arm to the chest to ensure it stays immobilized, and then only for a few weeks. Femur fractures can also occur when the leg is awkwardly twisted during delivery, however these fractures are rarer, as the femur is a larger bone. The treatment for a femur fracture is to use a Pavlik harness for about four weeks—as newborn bones heal very quickly.
Some injuries are more serious, however. For example, Bachial Plexus injuries, also known as Erb’s Palsy, happen when the nerves that travel from the neck down the arm are stretched, broken, or ruptured. For mild cases treatment is to allow the nerves to heal over time. However, as the severity increases, so does the extremity of the treatment. If the nerve roots are completely dislodged from the spine, complete paralysis may occur, and in some cases, surgery is required for cases in between; occasionally physical therapy and other therapeutic models are also needed in infancy.
The most extreme birth injuries involve complications such as cerebral palsy or spinal injuries. Cerebral palsy occurs in approximately two or three out of every 1,000 children in the United States, and is caused by injury to a specific part of the brain that controls voluntary muscle movement. This damage can lead to loss of movement and other nerve functions, and is both serious and permanent. Although in some circumstances CP can occur prior to or after birth, a large volume of the cases are due to medical errors. Spinal injuries that can result in partial paralysis or developmental delays can also happen as a result of doctor errors.
If your child has been affected by a birth injury, it is important to get in touch with a personal injury attorney quickly in order to proceed in any claims you may have. If you are looking for a south Florida personal injury attorney, consider contacting Zimmerman & Frachtman. We are Parkland personal injury attorneys with a wide variety of expertise and knowledge to assist those who have been the victims of medical malpractice. Contact us online or by phone at (954) 504-6577. We also have a toll free number: (800)886-LAWS.