For most parents, the birth of their baby is a magical moment. In some cases, that miraculous moment is shattered by the realization that the baby suffered a birth injury. The life dreamed of for a child could be altered in seconds. In some cases, there may be no one to blame for the birth injury, but in others the negligence of a medical professional could be responsible for the birth injury. Of course, not all birth injuries are catastrophic or permanent. Some babies are born with mild bruising on their face and head from the instruments used during their birth. In most cases this bruising disappears within a few days. Other times, permanent physical impairments and learning disabilities can occur.
These serious birth injuries bring emotional pain to the family, physical pain (in some cases) to the baby, and financial devastation in many cases. If the birth injuries are severe, parents may find themselves financially unable to provide the level of medical care, therapy, special needs schools as well as many other items the child will need throughout his or her life. Perhaps your child’s birth injury was a direct result of negligent actions by a Mississippi medical professional who failed to provide the standard of care another reasonable medical professional would have done, under the same circumstances.
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There are many types of birth injury, however the most common injuries caused by inaction of a medical professional or negligent action by a medical professional include the following:
- Vacuum machines, used to help deliver the baby during a difficult birthing process, can be used in an improper manner. The doctor applies a soft or hard cup, generally to the top and back of the baby’s head, using suction to assist the baby’s delivery. When the vacuum device is not properly placed on the skull or shoulder of the baby, both mother and baby can sustain serious injuries. The FDA has issued specific warnings for the use of vacuum extractors including: the baby should not be too large for the mother’s pelvis, the baby’s head should be well down into the birth canal, the mother should be fully dilated, and the baby should be younger than 34 weeks gestation. When a vacuum extractor is misused, skull fractures, shoulder dystocia, Erb’s palsy, brain hemorrhages and cerebral palsy can result.
- Forceps can also be used improperly during a delivery. Forceps look remarkably like a set of salad servers, except the end of each tong is a curved blade which can pass up the birth canal, gripping the baby’s head and allowing the doctor to forcibly pull the baby out. Applying too much pressure with forceps can result in injury to the baby’s skull, even bleeding in the brain leading to cerebral palsy. Misuse of forceps can also damage the seventh cranial nerve, leading to temporary or permanent facial paralysis.
- During some births, the mother suffers a quick drop in blood pressure, or the baby’s heartbeat slows to a dangerous level. If the doctor in charge delays a Caesarian delivery, serious injury or death to the mother and/or baby can result.
- Pitocin, a labor-inducing drug, may have been used incorrectly, resulting in injury to the baby.
- Sometimes a healthcare professional fails to notice serious changes in the condition of the baby during delivery, resulting in a birth injury.
- High risk mothers or babies who fail to receive the specialized care required could end up with serious medical issues and injury.
- When a condition such as an umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck, abruption of the placenta, premature rupture of the membranes or infection are not diagnosed in a timely manner, injury or death can occur.
- In some instances, sufficient oxygen is not received by the baby’s brain during the birth process. If this occurs, hypoxia can result, causing severe mental or physical disabilities.
- Brachial Plexus nerves provide the power to the arm muscles. The severity of the Brachial Palsy will depend on the location of the nerve injury and whether the injury is a total tear, a partial tear or a “stretch.” Roughly half of all Brachial Palsy cases will heal themselves within the first few weeks of life. Other children may require nerve surgery later on. In many cases Brachial Palsy occurs when the baby must be delivered quickly, and a medical professional exerts too much force pulling the baby from the birth canal. One side of the baby’s neck may be stretched, resulting in Brachial Palsy.
While any difficult birth increases the likelihood of a birth injury, doctors and nurses must take all reasonable measures to reduce the risk of such injury. Clavicle fractures, cerebral palsy, Klumpke’s palsy, encephalopathy, facial paralysis, shoulder dystocia, brachial plexus and brain damage are all potential birth injuries, made more likely when negligence on the part of medical professionals is present.
Signs of Birth Injury Following Delivery and Later
Some birth injuries are evident almost immediately. If the baby’s skin is pale or blue, his or her breathing is slow, the baby is sluggish or lethargic, has a slow heart rate, requires resuscitation, expresses no interest in feeding, has difficulty feeding, has low APGAR scores, or if the baby favors one side of the body, or there are seizures, then a birth injury may have occurred. Sometimes a birth injury is not identified until later, when the child misses developmental milestones. Speech-language development disorders, impairment of motor skills, learning disabilities or behavioral problems can all be signs of a birth injury.
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It is important to consult a skilled Mississippi birth injury attorney if you suspect your baby’s birth injury was the result of negligence. Your attorney can examine fetal monitoring records, diagnostic tests, and doctor’s notes on your pregnancy and delivery. If birthing tools were used incorrectly, your Mississippi attorney can use this information to build a strong case on your behalf. You may be entitled to medical expenses related to your baby’s birth injury.
These expenses can be past or current medical expenses as well as those which are reasonably expected in the future. Expenses related to counseling, in-home care, necessary modifications to your home or automobile, and costs for occupational or rehabilitative therapies could be part of your compensation. You could also be entitled to monetary compensation for your child’s pain and suffering as well as his or her loss of enjoyment of life. Your Mississippi birth injury attorney cares about your future and the future of your child and will work hard to improve the outcome of a condition resulting from medical negligence.
If your baby has been injured during labor and delivery in Jackson, Hattiesburg, Meridian, or anywhere in the State of Mississippi, the best thing you can do is to contact an experienced Mississippi birth injury attorney. Your attorney can help you obtain the money you will need to care for your child and help them have the brightest future possible, in spite of their injury.
At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys believe in fighting aggressively for injured Mississippi victims and their families – to ensure that they receive the money they need to put their lives back together again. We can help you and your family after a devastating birth injury. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at (601) 265-7766.