Childbirth injuries can be devastating for your family and can forever change your infant’s life. Sadly, many of these birth injuries can be avoided if the medical staff acts appropriately. Brain injuries are particularly devastating and may affect your child’s ability to develop normally.
Most cases of brain trauma in infants occur during pregnancy, childbirth, or shortly thereafter. Those occurring during childbirth are typically the result of medical negligence. Consider these five common brain injuries that happen during the childbirth process:
- Lack of oxygen. There are two types of oxygen loss. During anoxia, your child has no access to oxygen whatsoever. Hypoxia is a condition where your infant can get some oxygen, but not enough. Aside from death, hypoxia and anoxia can cause cerebral palsy and many other medical conditions. Your infant may not be able to access enough oxygen if:
- He or she gets stuck in the birth canal. If a physician does not dislodge your baby from the canal quickly enough, your child may suffer from oxygen deprivation injuries as well as injuries from any attempts to dislodge him or her.
- The umbilical cord gets compromised. Knotted and twisted umbilical cords can cut off your baby’s oxygen supply, making breathing impossible. In some cases, doctors cut the cord too quickly, which may cause a dangerous lack of oxygen even after birth. An umbilical cord wrapped around the neck is particularly frightening and requires immediate action.
- Failing to perform a C-section quickly enough. If a physician knows a Cesarean is the safest course of action for you and your child and fails to act quickly, the resulting conditions in the womb may lead to brain damage for your baby.
- Infection (failure to diagnose or treat). If you experience intrauterine infection or preeclampsia during pregnancy, you face a higher risk of infant brain damage during pregnancy and childbirth. Intrauterine infections like herpes and rubella need to be monitored carefully. Preeclampsia causes symptoms like elevated blood pressure and protein in the urine. It can also lead to restricted blood flow, which can cause brain damage to your infant. Doctors who do not adequately address an infection you have may be held liable for any injuries your infant faces as a result.
- Trauma. A physician who does not follow the prescribed standards for medical care in the delivery room may physically harm your infant. Excessive pulling and the use of certain tools like a vacuum or forceps can all cause brain trauma and long-lasting injury to your baby if not handled appropriately.
- Jaundice. If your baby shows signs of jaundice at or after birth, he or she should be treated immediately. Jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin and around the eyes caused by excessive bilirubin in the body, can lead to difficulty swallowing, seizures, and brain damage. In extreme cases, it can even lead to death. Babies with jaundice may need to undergo treatment, including light therapy and blood transfusions.
- Failure to anticipate complications. If a physician should have reasonably predicted or evaluated a complication prior to childbirth and fails to do so, any consequential injuries may be considered malpractice.
A complication at birth and a subsequent brain injury diagnosis do not necessarily indicate medical malpractice. In some cases, the situation leading to the injury may be unavoidable, even with the assistance of an expert doctor. When a doctor fails to act according to the medical industry’s standard of care, medical malpractice may be the right conclusion.
To prove malpractice, a West Virginia medical malpractice lawyer must demonstrate that the physician’s actions fell below that standard. If another doctor with the same skillset would have acted differently and that different action would not have led to injury, the case is considered malpractice.