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Understanding your child’s birth injury

| Jul 20, 2021 | Birth Injuries |

Like many other parents in North Carolina, you probably spent the time leading up to your child’s birth getting the nursery ready, buying clothes and stocking up on diapers. All that forethought could not prepare you for what happened though. If your child suffered a birth injury you might not be sure where to turn or what to do.

There is a lot to unpack after a birth injury, both emotionally and physically. You might be confused about what really happened or the difference between a birth injury and a birth defect. The primary difference is that a birth defect is something that occurs prior to labor and is generally unavoidable, while a birth injury occurs in labor and is typically avoidable. Here are two of the most common birth injuries.

Erb’s palsy

Erb’s palsy is also referred to as brachial palsy and affects approximately one in every 500 births. This injury occurs when a baby is born with an injury to his or her brachial plexus, which is a group of nerves. Some of the contributing factors to Erb’s palsy include errors on the part of the attending physician, such as:

  • Failure to realize that a cesarean section is necessary
  • Failure to adequately deliver a baby whose shoulder is stuck
  • Use of excessive force on a baby’s neck, shoulder or head during delivery

Although treatment is possible, the long lasting impact of Erb’s palsy can be difficult. Babies with Erb’s palsy typically cannot fully rotate or even flex their arms. Permanent nerve damage can be a lifelong complication.

Cerebral palsy

Another common type of birth injury is cerebral palsy. This is more of an umbrella term that refers to a number of different disorders that can affect a baby’s movement and brain functions. A few contributing factors to cerebral palsy include:

  • Brain injuries in the womb
  • Brain injuries during birth
  • Lack of oxygen during delivery

Symptoms associated with cerebral palsy do not always show up immediately. Instead, parents may notice over time that their child is not developing at a normal pace. Children with cerebral palsy are generally slow to roll over, crawl, smile or talk. They may also exhibit decreased muscle tone or poor coordination.

Who is responsible?

If your obstetrician overlooked, ignored or disregarded warning signs or important safety precautions, he or she could be responsible for your child’s birth injury. Since you delivered in a hospital, there may be others at fault too. Nurses and the facility itself can often be held responsible for their actions.

Although it may not seem like it right now, helping your child get the compensation he or she deserves is essential. A successfully navigated medical malpractice claim not only provides compensation for things like pain and suffering but also for current and future medical care related to the birth injury. Securing this compensation is often key to getting your child the care that he or she deserves.