Head trauma may occur during delivery and can lead to a number of conditions
for the infant including caput succedaneum, cephalohematoma, normal head deformity due to birth forces, subgaleal hemorrhage, subdural hemorrhage, subarachnoid hemorrhage, and epidural hemorrhage.
In addition to head trauma, there are also several other types of
birth injuries that can occur within any hospital environment.
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a chronic disability of the central nervous system characterized by abnormal control of movement and posture. The cause of most cases of Cerebral Palsy remains unknown, but it has become clear that birth difficulties are not to blame in most cases. Rather, developmental problems before birth, usually unknown and generally undiagnosable, are largely responsible. CP may be caused by fetal stroke in the uterus before labor, fetal infection before birth, malformation of the brain originating at conception, genetic diseases, complications of prematurity or unknown causes.
Sometimes, Cerebral Palsy is caused by brain damage from lack of oxygen due to an event during labor or delivery. When this happens in full term babies, the newborn will have evidence of severe pH abnormality in the cord blood and neurologic abnormalities soon after birth. Frequently there will be signs of sudden oxygen deprivation seen on the fetal monitor, very low Apgar scores at birth, and involvement of other organs such as the kidneys within a few days.
According to the American Journal of
Neuroradiology, perinatal asphyxia happens in 2 to 10 newborns out
of every 1000 that are born at term.Perinatal asphyxia is
the medical condition resulting from deprivation of oxygen to a
newborn infant long enough to cause apparent harm. It results most
commonly from a drop in maternal blood pressure or interference
during delivery with blood flow to the infant's brain.
Erb’s Palsy can occur as a result of an abnormal or difficult
childbirth or labor. It is a paralysis of the arm caused by injury
to the upper group of the arm's main nerves. It can occur if the
infant's head and neck are pulled toward the side at the same time
as the shoulders pass through the birth canal. The condition can
also be caused by excessive pulling on the shoulders during a head
first delivery, or by pressure on the raised arms during a breech
(feet first) delivery. Erb's palsy can also affect neonates affected
by a clavicle fracture unrelated to dystocia.
Brachial plexus palsy occurs in 0.4 to 5.1 infants for every
1,000 children born. Brachial plexus injuries can occur as a
result of shoulder trauma, tumors, or inflammation. Brachial
plexus injuries may happen during birth if the baby’s shoulder is
stretched during passage in the birth canal.
The most common fracture that can occur during delivery is that of
When an infant is injured during birth, it is usually as a result of mechanical forces, such as compression,
excessive or abnormal traction during delivery, the use of forceps
(especially mid-cavity), instrumental deliveries, vacuum measures,
vaginal breech deliveries, and other devices used by the medical staff during delivery.
Meconium aspiration syndrome is a leading cause of severe
illness and death in a newborn. The possibility of inhaling meconium
occurs in about 5-10% of births. It typically occurs when the fetus
is stressed during labor, especially when the infant is past its due
date. Meconium aspiration syndrome is a serious condition in which
a newborn breathes a mixture of meconium (first feces or stool) and
amniotic fluid into the lungs around the time of delivery.
Significant birth injury accounts for fewer than 2% of neonatal
deaths and stillbirths in the United States. However, birth injuries
still occur occasionally and unavoidably within the medical
community. In the US alone, there are an average of 6-8
injuries per 1000 live births each year. A higher risk is
associated with larger infants, born with a birth weight of 4500g or
A birth trauma can be both an emotional and daunting experience
for all family members.
Anyone who has been the victim of a birth trauma that has resulted
in a head injury, birth injury, or cerebral palsy diagnosis, as the
result of medical negligence, is eligible to recover medical and
hospital expenses to cover the care of the child. If the birth
injury was caused as a result of the medical staffs’ failure to
properly identify the risk factors, as the result of surgical errors
or anesthesia errors, the family may also recover medical and
hospital expenses. The first step is to have your case evaluated by
an experienced law firm to find out your legal options.
The following sections explain: