Birth injuries for any family are a devastating experience. Birth injuries commonly occur when infants are deprived of oxygen that can cause brain damage or other serious injuries. Some of these injuries that can occur due to negligence or malpractice during the childbirth process are:
Cerebral palsy – a term that refers to a group of chronic movement or posture disorders. Some examples of things that can indicate potential brain damage during labor are when the mother’s water broke and the doctor did not make sure that she delivered within 24 hours, umbilical strangulation, and if the baby is not getting enough oxygen either before, during or immediately after birth (this is called birth asphyxia).
There are several types of Cerebral Palsy: 1) Spastic cerebral palsy results from damage to the cortiospinal tracts or the motor cortex. (See cerebral anatomy for a description of these areas). This condition results in excessive muscle tone or rigidity (called hypertonicity), and is the most common form of cerebral palsy, affecting about 70% of patients. 2) Ataxic cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls coordination and how “smooth” motor movement is. It is much less common than the spastic type, affecting about 10% of patients. It causes low tone (called hypotonia) and tremors. Fine motor skills like writing or typing are severely impaired. Loss of balance, especially when walking, can be severe. It is unfortunately common for people with ataxic cerebral palsy to also have visual and hearing impairments. 3) Athetoid/dyskinetic cerebral palsy is characterized by writhing movements of the hands and sometimes the trunk as well. These involuntary movements make it very difficult to walk and significantly impair any task requiring fine motor skills.
Erb’s Palsy – a condition caused by an injury to the nerves surrounding the shoulder that can be caused by complications during delivery. The brachial plexus (BRAY-key-el PLEK-sis) is a network of nerves near the neck that give rise to all the nerves of the arm. These nerves provide movement and feeling to the arm, hand, and fingers. Palsy means weakness, and brachial plexus birth palsy causes arm weakness and loss of motion. One or two of every 1,000 babies have this condition. It is often caused when an infant’s neck is stretched to the side during a difficult delivery.
When some of these injuries occur they have the potential to impact the entire family for the entire child’s life. If you believe that you may have been a victim of negligence during the childbirth process, then you should contact a birth injury lawyeras soon as possible.