Some of the more typical birth injuries are caused by two very distinct conditions that are known as cerebral palsy and Erb’s (or brachial) palsy. Both cerebral and Erb’s palsy are usually caused by complications that happen during the delivery of the child, although cerebral palsy may sometimes happen before or even after delivery.
Cerebral palsy is a generic term that applies to several disorders that affect the brain of a baby’s ability to function as well as general body mobility. Cerebral palsy can be caused by injuries to the baby’s brain in the womb, during delivery, and in some cases even after birth. It can also be the result of a lack of oxygen flow to the child’s brain during the delivery process.
Some scenarios that may result in or cause cerebral palsy as a birth injury could include:
- A treating physician or obstetrician’s failure to identify the need to provide sufficient oxygen to the baby, such as through cesarean section, or unreasonable delay in performing the procedure;
- A mother’s intake of a harmful prescription drug during pregnancy;
- Extended bleeding in the brain of the baby following delivery, often caused by head trauma; and
- Extremely premature birth.
Possible symptoms of cerebral palsy in a child could take time to be readily noticeable but can often include the following: slow development regarding rolling over, crawling, smiling, and talking; irregular or reduced muscle tone, general “floppiness” of limbs; abnormal posture; poor coordination; involuntary movement; and sight or hearing issues.
Erb’s (or Brachial) Palsy
The birth injury known as Erb’s (or brachial) palsy happens in about two out of every 1,000 child deliveries, when a baby sustains an injury to the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is a group of nerves that go from the spinal cord through to the arm, extending to the arms and hands of the child. Erb’s palsy usually occurs during the delivery process when excessive pressure is placed on the head neck, or shoulder of the baby due to difficulty delivering the shoulder area — which is referred to as “shoulder dystocia.”
The condition happens most commonly in babies of higher than average birth weight and can take place when forceps or vacuum devices are utilized with too much pressure during the delivery process. The brachial plexus is just stretched too far, causing important nerves to be torn or ruptured. Symptoms of Erb’s palsy can include paralysis or limpness of the baby’s ligaments, limited or lack of movement in the hands and fingers, and a lack of sensation in the hands and fingers. Usually, the baby will just hold the affected arm very near to his or her body and will seem to be unable to move the arm, hands, or fingers entirely.
Certain complications from the condition referred to as Erb’s palsy are usually caused by the treating physician or obstetrician’s:
- Failure to identify that a cesarean section should have been performed, due to the size of the baby;
- Failure to properly deliver the baby in scenarios involving “shoulder dystocia;” or
- Use of excessive pressure on the head, neck, or shoulder of the baby during the process of delivery.
Erb’s palsy often causes the baby to be unable to fully rotate and flex his or her arm, and if the nerve is ruptured during delivery, there could be permanent nerve damage as a consequence. If there has been no tearing, bruising or swelling near the nerve will likely subside allowing normal movement to become possible after several months. Treatment and therapy including immobilization of the arm and specialized exercises could potentially help to improve or eliminate the condition if the baby is diagnosed with Erb’s palsy. If the condition is severe enough or seems to be permanent, surgery may be required to correct the issue.
What Do I Do If I Suspect A Birth Injury?
If you are under the suspicion that your child could have been injured during birth or experienced birth trauma, you should seek medical help for your child immediately. Timely and adequate treatment will increase the chances that your child will live with as little damage as possible relating to his or her condition.
Many children will still require longlasting and expensive medical treatment, perhaps even throughout their lives. Some will require to be followed by many pediatric specialists and will require ongoing physical and occupational therapy. In some cases, at-home care is too costly for parents to provide their children and placement in a specialized institution is not always very realistic.
Your child should be eligible for the benefits of the most advanced treatment that is available in order to increase his or her quality of life. There is a huge difference between the ideal and most sophisticated treatment and the treatment or services that may be covered by private medical insurance and programs such as Medicaid. If your child as sustained a preventable birth injury, the compensation you could regain in a birth injury case may be the only option to provide the services and level of care your child needs to help him or her toward greater recovery.
Birth Injuries in Utah
Injuries during the birthing process can be due to many reasons.
When tools are utilized during delivery such as tongs or vacuum devices, the chance of your child suffering birth injuries is increased by 30 percent. Studies also show that mothers who have private insurance are more likely to have children who suffer birth injuries.
Whatever the reasons, these birth injuries can make things difficult for the family and the child, who will likely have to undergo costly medical treatments throughout their life. It is in your favor to protect your legal rights by calling an experienced Utah birth injury attorney to recover deserved compensation.
Siegfried & Jensen has helped thousands of people in and around Salt Lake City recover the compensation they deserve after having a child who sustained injuries due to a negligent physician. If your child has suffered similar injuries at the hands of a trusted doctor, contact our law offices at 801-845-9000.