The birth of your child is a joyous occasion; however, when a birth injury happens, this joy can quickly turn to fear. To better understand the realities of what a birth injury will mean for your family, it’s important to first know the signs of a birth injury.
What Is A Birth Injury?
A birth injury is any type of injury to the brain or nerves of a newborn that happens before, during, or right after birth. Sometimes, birth injuries happen while the baby is still in-utero. When these occur, the likely culprit is alcohol use during pregnancy or an infection.
Other types of birth injuries occur during the labor and delivery process. Many of these types of injuries are considered preventable and fall under medical malpractice.
In terms of brain injuries at birth, there are 4 common types of birth-related brain trauma:
- Cerebral dysgenesis
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Intracranial hemorrhages
- Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL)
What Causes Birth Injuries?
There are many possible causes of birth injuries—most of which are preventable. A few examples of preventable medical errors include:
- Diagnosing and preventing umbilical cord complications
- Performing C-sections when medically necessary
- Properly monitoring heart rate monitors during delivery
- Detecting infections during pregnancy
- Using delivery instrument properly
What Are The Signs Of Birth Injury?
Unless you’re expecting your baby to be born with a birth defect, chances are you’ll be too caught up in the excitement of the delivery to look closely for signs that something is wrong with your newborn. In hindsight, parents often think back to what happened during their child’s delivery once they start to notice the baby missing their milestones. Your baby missing important developmental milestones, as well as signs of cognitive or physical distress, are good indicators that there was some kind of injury during birth.
There are a number of signs that you can look for immediately after your baby is born that might indicate a birth injury. These symptoms include:
- Arched back while crying
- Difficulty eating, suckling, or swallowing
- Erb’s palsy
- Excessive drooling
- Hand curled into a claw-like shape
- High-pitched crying, grunting, or overall fussiness
- Low oxygen levels
- Lowered heart rate
- Muscle stiffness or looseness
- Sensitivity to light
- Skull fractures
- Weak or absent reflexes
In addition to immediate symptoms, some birth trauma symptoms take time to develop. In some instances, it can take a year or more until you notice that something is “off.” Examples of delayed birth injury symptoms include:
- Baby shows difficulty performing basic movements like clapping and grasping
- Baby experiences stiffness in their joints and/or muscles
- Inability to control the movement of arms and legs
- Problems crawling, sitting up, and walking
Having a baby is life-changing. If you suspect or know that your baby’s injury was the result of medical malpractice or negligence, contact an experienced birth injury attorney to get help securing the compensation you need to support your child.