Birth injuries encompass physical damage to newborn children immediately after birth. This area of law is also commonly known as obstetrician malpractice or birth trauma.
The following is a list and description of common birth injuries provided by the University of Virginia health system:
Caput is a severe swelling of the soft tissues of the baby’s scalp that develops as the baby travels through the birth canal. Some babies have some bruising of the area. The swelling usually disappears in a few days without problems. Babies delivered by vacuum extraction are more likely to have this condition.
Cephalohematoma is an area of bleeding between the bone and its fibrous covering. It often appears several hours after birth as a raised lump on the baby’s head. The body resorbs the blood. Depending on the size, most cephalohematomas take two weeks to three months to disappear completely. If the area of bleeding is large, some babies may develop jaundice as the red blood cells break down.
Some babies may show signs of bruising on the face or head simply as a result of the trauma of passing through the birth canal and contact with the mother’s pelvic bones and tissues. Forceps used with delivery can leave temporary marks or bruises on the baby’s face and head. Babies delivered by vacuum extraction may have some scalp bruising or a scalp laceration (cut).
A subconjunctival hemorrhage is the breakage of small blood vessels in the eyes of a baby. One or both of the eyes may have a bright red band around the iris. This is very common and does not cause damage to the eyes. The redness is usually absorbed in a week to ten days.
During labor or birth, pressure on a baby’s face may cause the facial nerve to be injured. This may also occur with the use of forceps for delivery. The injury is often seen when the baby cries. There is no movement on the side of the face with the injury and the eye cannot be closed. If the nerve was only bruised, the paralysis usually improves in a few weeks. If the nerve was torn, surgery may be needed.
Brachial palsy occurs when the brachial plexus (the group of nerves that supplies the arms and hands) is injured. It is most common when there is difficulty delivering the baby’s shoulder, called shoulder dystocia. The baby loses the ability to flex and rotate the arm. If the injury caused bruising and swelling around the nerves, movement should return within a few months. Tearing of the nerve may result in permanent nerve damage. Special exercises are used to help maintain the range of motion of the arm while healing occurs.
Fracture of the clavicle or collarbone is the most common fracture during labor and delivery. The clavicle may break when there is difficulty delivering the baby’s shoulder or during a breech delivery. The baby with a fractured clavicle rarely moves the arm on the side of the break. However, healing occurs quickly. As new bone forms, a firm lump on the clavicle often develops in the first 10 days. If the fracture is painful, limiting movement of the arm and shoulder with a soft bandage or split may be helpful.
Other Issues that Can Occur While Delivering a Baby
In some cases, if a doctor has trouble delivering a baby’s shoulders (also known as shoulder dystocia), a newborn will sustain a broken collarbone or could possibly suffer from Erb’s palsy, the paralysis or weakening of the arm due to stretching of nerves centered around the shoulders.
Cerebral palsy, one of the more serious birth injuries a newborn can incur, results in a loss of movement or other nerve function that does not improve over time.
Newborns can also inhale blood, fecal matter, or other loose materials during birth and suffer a respiratory infection as a result.
When a healthcare professional or other party is at fault for the injury of a newborn, the parents and newborn suffer a personal injury and are eligible for compensation through legal means.
Contact a Birth Injury Attorney
The initial consultation is free of charge.
If we agree to handle your injury case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if, and when, there is a money recovery for you.
In many cases, a lawsuit must be filed before an applicable expiration date, known as a statute of limitations. So please call right away to ensure that you do not waive your right to possible compensation.
Our team of birth injury attorneys are licensed to practice in Illinois, Iowa, and the federal courts.
We have handled and can handle serious cases all over the country.
No matter where you reside VanDerGinst Law can help you.
The information contained on this website is presented by VanDerGinst Law P.C. It is not intended nor should it be construed as professional legal advice. The information is general in nature about the Firm, the scope of services we offer, and our community outreach, it is not legal advice. Please contact us by phone, email, mail, or via this website for inquiries. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your situation. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Iowa and/or the State of Illinois.