When an infant suffers health problems at birth, extensive and sometimes lifelong treatment is required. Caring for a child with a birth defect or a birth injury can be challenging, both emotionally and financially. Family members often wonder if the physical or mental condition is the result of genetic conditions or developmental problems, or due to an external factor.
There are several key differences between a birth defect and a birth injury. Generally, birth defects occur when the child is in the womb; birth injuries develop as a result of mistakes during prenatal care, labor, and delivery. If your child suffered a birth injury, you may be eligible for legal action against the medical professional.
Examples of Birth Defects
A birth defect occurs when a child experiences a developmental abnormality while he or she is in utero, often during the first trimester of pregnancy. Many defects are caused by genetics or have no discernable cause at all. Other conditions develop as a result of external factors like alcohol or drug use, maternal conditions, and smoking.
Birth defects can affect any part of the body and may range from mild to very severe. Below are some of the most common types of birth defects:
Cleft lip or palate
Fetal alcohol syndrome
Congenital dislocated hip
Examples of Birth Injuries
Birth injuries happen when a child or his or her mother suffers harm before, during, and immediately after delivery. In many cases, these injuries occur as a result of medical negligence, or a healthcare provider’s failure to provide a certain standard of care to his or her patients. Ignoring fetal vital signs, failing to screen for common birth complications, physical trauma, and the use of dangerous birthing tools like forceps or vacuums may lead to birth injuries.
Below are some of the most common birth injuries that a child may sustain:
Brain Damage: During birth, medical professionals need to carefully monitor a child’s heart rate and oxygen levels. When a child suffers prolonged oxygen deprivation, he or she can develop permanent brain damage and conditions like cerebral palsy.
Brachial Plexus Injury: The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that extend from the spine to the neck, shoulder, arm, and hand. During delivery, a medical provider may tear or twist these nerves, leading to temporary or permanent paralysis.
Spinal Cord Injuries: The spinal cord helps send messages from the brain to the rest of the body. A medical professional may use so much force during delivery that the baby suffers nerve or spinal cord damage, which can result in paralysis and limited mobility.
Caput Succedaneum: This injury occurs when a child suffers pressure on his or her scalp during delivery, usually caused by forceps. As a result, the scalp becomes swollen, bruised, and discolored. Caput succedaneum usually heals on its own.
Your Legal Options after a Birth Injury
If your child suffered a birth injury due to the actions of a medical professional, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the negligent provider. By filing a birth injury claim, your family can hold the provider accountable for your child’s medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages.
In these situations, you need a Augusta birth injury attorney who can fight for your family’s right to justice. As soon as possible following your child’s injury, contact a lawyer to plan your next steps.