If medical malpractice during pregnancy or childbirth caused a child to suffer birth injuries, hiring a birth injury lawyer and filing a claim for compensation can help parents hold negligent parties accountable.
Birth Injuries: Causes and Effects
In the United States, 1 in 33 children are born with birth injuries or defects, affecting about 120,000 babies each year. Depending on the body part or organ that is affected and the severity of the birth injury, a newborn baby may experience various consequences that impact physical and/or mental development.
Many birth defects are caused by genetics, medications, and lack of prenatal care during pregnancy. Others, however, may result from errors made by attending medical professionals during pregnancy or childbirth. Birth injury lawyers commonly see medical mistakes that occur due to improper prenatal care, prescription medications, failure to diagnose fetal problems, and errors made during delivery.
Numerous birth injuries are linked to medical errors during pregnancy and/or childbirth. While some may heal on their own, others may cause developmental disabilities, severe life-long physical and mental impairments, or even death. Common causes of birth injuries caused by medical errors include:
- Improper prenatal care and screening
- Failure to diagnose high-risk pregnancies
- Failure to diagnose maternal and fetus infections
- Failure to monitor and recognize signs of fetal distress
- Improper epidural administration
- Using forceps and vacuum extraction tools during delivery
When medical errors occur, birth injury lawyers often witness life-changing consequences for babies. Oxygen deprivation, infections, neonatal jaundice, nerve damage, and skull and/or brain injuries often result in permanent physical and/or mental impairments with life-threatening health problems.
Developmental delays are often identified by a child missing an important milestone or falling behind his/her peers in normal activities. This may be apparent in a child’s physical, mental, or emotional growth and development. Most developmental delays in children are identified during preschool years through 5 years of age. Common developmental delays seen by birth injury lawyers are associated with a child’s speech, vision, motor skills, cognitive skills, and social and emotional skills.
Speech and Language Skills
When a child’s speech and language skills are affected by birth injuries, the child will have difficulty understanding and learning to perform ordinary tasks. Problems may be identified by a child’s delayed speech, not using early words like “mama and dada,” not babbling or imitating sounds, and not forming sentences. Speech delays may indicate a more serious brain injury.
A child’s vision skills impacted by birth injuries are usually detected in babies older than 3 months who can not make steady eye contact or follow an object as it moves. After 4 months, vision may be impacted by an abnormal inward or outward crossing of the eyes. Other vision problems include eyes that are misaligned, eyes that flutter quickly, eyes that are too sensitive to light, and drooping eyelids.
Motor Skills (Physical Movements)
A child’s motor skills allow the child to perform daily activities with coordinated limbs like hands, arms, legs, and feet. Developmental milestones are used to watch for motor skills at different ages of childhood. Developmental delays in motor skills are often noticed when a child is not crawling, standing, walking, rolling over, sitting up, or grasping objects due to poor muscle control.
Cognitive Skills (Thinking)
A child’s cognitive skills determine how well the child thinks and learns to solve problems. Although a child’s level of general awareness and attention may vary compared to other children of the same age, there are ordinary milestones. Cognitive developmental delays often prevent a child from recognizing objects or pictures, using hand gestures, pointing to things, and following instructions.
Social and Emotional Skills
A child’s social and emotional skills determine the child’s relationships with peers and adults, the ability to express needs, and the ability to deal with disappointment, stress, and trauma. Red flags include lack of facial expressions like smiling or laughing, not responding to other children or adults, lack of interest in playing, lack of empathy, and difficulty being comforted by adults.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
When birth injuries are linked to medical errors, it may be necessary to hire a birth injury lawyer who can investigate injury claims and file a medical malpractice lawsuit for negligent actions.
The first step in pursuing compensation for birth injuries is determining whether the injuries were caused by medical errors made by attending doctors and nurses, or simply the unfortunate outcome of a complicated delivery. In some cases, birth injury lawyers witness doctors who claim injuries are birth defects to hide cases of medical negligence.
Not all birth injuries are detected at birth, but birth injury lawyers can gather medical records that show specific problems linked to medical errors at different ages of a child. Medical evidence can prove medical malpractice that warrants compensation for injuries.