Birth Injuries and Effects on the Brain
Birth injuries occur to an alarming number of infants born in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than twenty-three thousand infants died in 2015 alone. Many more children suffered permanent physiological damage as the result of birth injuries.
Brain injuries are among the most devastating of all birth injuries. Many of these injured children will suffer permanent damage from a brain birth injury, permanently altering their lives as a result. Children who sustained a brain injury at birth have legal rights that parents must vigorously defend. Contact the experienced brain injury attorneys at the Dolman Law Group as soon as possible to ensure your child receives the compensation to which the law entitles all brain injury victims.
A newborn infant can sustain brain damage due to oxygen deprivation, jaundice, physical trauma from labor and delivery, and infection from the mother’s body.
Oxygen deprivation (birth asphyxia): Oxygen deprivation is an alarmingly common birth complication. Even short terms of oxygen deprivation can cause irreversible brain damage. In general, however, longer periods of oxygen deprivation will cause more severe brain damage. Oxygen deprivation at birth can cause cerebral palsy, autism, ADHD or other behavior problems, learning deficits, impaired vision, and seizures. In many cases, the effects of oxygen deprivation do not become apparent until a child is older, and behavior begins to differ from that of peers. By the time observable symptoms arise, the statute of limitations may have already lapsed, and the child will receive no compensation for lifetime injuries. This is why it is so important for parents to seek legal advice as soon as a birth injury occurs.
Jaundice: Jaundice is a yellow staining of the skin and eyes caused by excessive bilirubin (a yellow pigment in red blood cells) in the blood. Jaundice is particularly common in premature babies. If it is treated appropriately and immediately, a child can often recover from jaundice without any long-term effects. However, if left untreated, bilirubin levels in the child’s blood will continue to increase. This can eventually cause brain damage, as bilirubin is toxic to the delicate nerve tissue of the brain. Symptoms of high bilirubin levels include lethargy, high-pitched screaming, high fever, and abnormal arching of the back. When high bilirubin levels lead to a form of brain damage called encephalopathy, vomiting and the impaired ability to suck or feed these symptoms.
Physical trauma: Labor and delivery can place a huge amount of pressure and stress on a baby’s body. This physical trauma can cause injuries, and a doctor who fails to mitigate this stress appropriately can be liable for malpractice. For example, if labor goes too long, it can become dangerous for a baby, and the medical standard of care may be to induce labor rather than allowing this stress to continue. A doctor who fails to induce labor at this point may be liable for medical malpractice. Similarly, many tools doctors use during delivery (such as forceps or vacuums) can cause birth injuries to the baby. A doctor who improperly uses these tools is legally responsible for all injuries that result.
Infection: Pregnant women can experience many infections and diseases that are not dangerous to the mother, but can cause lasting damage to her unborn child. Examples include rubella, herpes, syphilis, varicella, yeast infections, venereal warts, and cystitis. With proper prenatal medical treatment, these conditions can be treated to reduce the risk of injury to the child.
What Parents Can Do to Reduce the Risk of Brain Injuries at Birth
The first—and most important—step in preventing birth injuries is good prenatal medical care. This allows doctors to identify and treat any potential birth risk factors as soon as possible. It will also ensure that the mother is in the best possible physical condition for the labor and delivery processes, which will reduce the risk of complications during childbirth. Decreased access to health care—before, during, and after birth—is one reason why rural newborns have higher mortality rates than urban newborns. (Interestingly, this pattern was found both in Australia and America.) Rural mothers should ensure that they receive adequate prenatal care throughout their pregnancies.
Parents must be involved in medical decision-making processes throughout labor and delivery. Ask questions about anything you do not understand. If something does not seem like the right choice, get a second opinion. If something does not feel right to the mother, medical staff should respond immediately. Do not hesitate to tell your doctor that something does not seem right, or that you disagree with a medical decision. Speaking up should continue after birth, as well—particularly if your baby requires further hospitalization, care in the neonatal intensive care unit, or other complicated medical treatment. Get second opinions as needed. Consult with an attorney about any injuries or mistakes in which negligence may have played a part. Your child has the legal right to compensation for injuries that resulted from medical malpractice, and parents should protect their children’s legal interests as well as their health. Birth injuries can cause permanent damage that often requires a lifetime of expensive medical care, rehabilitation, special educational services, and other treatments.
Experienced Brain Injury Attorneys Who Aggressively Pursue Your Personal Injury Claim
Brain injury victims have legal rights under Florida law. They are legally entitled to compensation for all losses resulting from the injury, including long-term medical care and rehabilitation, decreased future earnings potential, and all other costs attributable to the brain injury. The Dolman Law Group has decades of experience protecting the rights of brain injury victims in Florida. Call (727) 451-6900 or contact us online today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced, aggressive brain injury attorney.