Birth Injury Attorneys in NJ
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Childbirth is a momentous occasion for any family. But a newborn child has rights, too. If you feel that your child has suffered a birth injury, through either negligence on your physician's part or some other form of faulty care, please don't hesitate to contact a New Jersey personal injury lawyer at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., today.
According to the American Medical Association, "mechanical birth-associated trauma must be considered when assessing anomalies, injuries, respiratory difficulty, or feeding difficulties in the neonate or infant. A comprehensive approach is required to diagnose and manage these patients." Problems brought about by birth injury are serious, and can have adverse affects on your child's well-being. Preventative measures should be taken by medical providers before, during, and after a child’s birth, to minimize all risks and ensure the child is healthy.
Birth injury is simply defined as trauma suffered by a newborn during childbirth.
Birth injury can be the result of care given to an expectant mother. Prior to delivery, if the mother is given an improper dosage of medication, that medication can affect her unborn child. Even worse, if the wrong medication is given to an expectant mother, the risk of allergic reaction is not only faced by the mother, but her unborn child as well.
During the birthing process, the child must be monitored properly. Traditional birth is not always the best method for bringing a child into this world. Sometimes, a Cesarean section is required. A C-section is when incisions are made through a woman's abdomen and uterus to deliver a baby. This method is used when traditional vaginal delivery poses some sort of risk to either the mother or the child. Here are some complications that arise during childbirth that can cause birth injury if not handled quickly by the medical team:
- Shoulder dystocia: When an infant's head is out, but the shoulders are trapped behind the mother’s pelvic bone, this is referred to as shoulder dystocia. While it is rare, it can have serious consequences. The baby is "stuck" and a C-section is no longer an option. The baby may be unable to get oxygen, and it can be fatal. There are also dangers to the mother when this occurs, such as uterine rupture and excessive bleeding.
- Umbilical cord prolapse: Umbilical cord prolapse refers to a situation in which the umbilical cord drops through a mother's cervix during delivery, ahead of or next to the baby. This creates the danger of umbilical cord compression, which doesn’t allow oxygen and nutrients to reach the baby, creating the danger of fetal distress. Prolapse is fairly common, so doctors need to watch for it and respond properly to ensure the baby is not injured.
- Nuchal cord: "Nuchal cord" means the umbilical cord is wrapped around the neck of a child during delivery. If handled properly, there are often no negative consequences. However, doctors must make sure the child’s blood flow and oxygen are not diminished, which could result in serious birth injuries.
- Extraction injuries: Sometimes forceps and vacuum extraction are used to get the baby out. However, this should only be done by trained professionals - not all doctors have the knowledge or experience to attempt a forceps or vacuum delivery. Doctors who use these tools incorrectly can seriously injure the baby or mother.
- Placental abruption: Placental abruption is the early separation of the placenta from the uterine lining, typically during the third trimester. Doctors should watch for excessive bleeding and other warning signs and use ultrasound to determine if abruption is occurring. Since the placenta and umbilical cord are the baby’s “lifeline” in the womb, placental abruption can cut off the baby’s supply of oxygen and nutrients, potentially causing brain damage.
- Uterine rupture: Uterine rupture is more common in woman who give birth after previously delivering a child through C-section. There is a risk of the uterus tearing at the location of the scar, especially if a labor-inducing drug like Pitocin is used. Medical professionals must understand a woman’s history, these risks, and plan an appropriate childbirth scenario with the mother for her child.
Unfortunately, quite a few different birth injuries can occur if doctors and other medical professionals are not careful. These are the most common:
- Brachial plexus injury: The brachial plexus is a group of nerves located in the shoulder that connect the spinal cord to the arm. In difficult labor, such as shoulder dystocia, doctors often pull or twist too hard on the infant’s head, which stretches or tears the brachial plexus. When this happens, the child may suffer Erb’s palsy (paralysis in the upper arm) or Klumpke’s palsy (paralysis in the lower arm and hand).
- Cerebral palsy: Though cerebral palsy can be congenital, it can also be the result of a brain injury incurred during childbirth (often due to lack of oxygen). Cerebral palsy (CP) is a wide group of neurological disorders that center on motor skills. Movement, muscle tone, and posture are affected to different degrees, depending on the brain damage.
- Brain damage: Brain damage, usually received from a lack of oxygen during birth, can have wide-ranging results: from simple ADD to hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) - widespread brain dysfunction that causes severe impairments to a child, including epilepsy, developmental delays, and cognitive issues.
When medical providers do their duty and monitor the baby carefully, looking for any signs of distress during the birthing process, these injuries can mostly be avoided.
The percentage of C-sections performed has risen over the years, leading some people to question whether or not the best intentions of the child are always being taken into consideration. Your child has every right to a safe birthing process, and you have a right to seek compensation if your child was injured by the very people who were supposed to deliver him or her safely. The costs of medical bills and ongoing medical treatment, not to mention the emotional pain and distress of a birth injury, don't have to be your responsibility alone.
If you have discovered that your newborn has in someway suffered as the result of birth injury, don't hesitate to contact the experienced New Jersey attorneys at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., at (609) 240-0040 today.
- Birth Injury - Merck Manual
- Childbirth Problems - MedlinePlus
- What Are Some Common Complications During Labor and Delivery?
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