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What Are the Most Common Types of Birth Injuries?

December 4 2023 | Personal Injury

Birth injuries refer to harm suffered by a mother or child before, during or shortly after birth. If a birth injury arises due to a health care provider’s negligence or substandard patient care, it is recognized as medical malpractice. The parents of a newborn who is injured by medical malpractice have the right to file a claim in Connecticut to pursue financial damages.

Brain Injuries

A baby’s brain is still developing while he or she is in the womb. If injury or trauma occurs to the baby’s brain in utero or soon after birth, this can have lasting effects on how the brain develops. Serious traumatic brain injuries can have long-term consequences for a child, such as permanent brain damage that affects cognitive and physical abilities.

One type of brain injury that can stem from a birth injury is cerebral hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen reaching the baby’s brain. Types of medical malpractice such as failing to monitor an infant’s vitals for signs of distress can contribute to hypoxia-related brain injuries. If a doctor does not notice an umbilical cord issue that is cutting off the baby’s oxygen, for example, prolonged loss of oxygen can damage the brain.

Cerebral Palsy

A loss of oxygen to the brain’s cells can cause infant death if not caught in time. Even if the infant survives, he or she could suffer permanent brain damage and related medical conditions. One example is cerebral palsy: a group of motor function disorders with no known cure. Cerebral palsy can cause issues with muscle development and the movement of the body. Common symptoms include stiffness, uncontrolled and involuntary movements, and trouble with balance.

Injuries to the Shoulder or Brachial Plexus

Shoulder dystocia is a relatively common birth complication when a baby’s shoulder gets lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bone. If a doctor does not respond correctly or appropriately to shoulder dystocia, the infant could suffer injuries to his or her shoulder or arm.

If a doctor tugs on the infant’s arm, for example, it could pull or tear the soft tissues. This can cause brachial plexus injuries, or damage to the bundle of nerves located in the shoulder. Serious brachial plexus injuries can lead to Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy: two conditions that inflict paralysis on the affected arm and hand.

Bone Fractures

A negligent physician may use improper tools or techniques during a difficult birth that ultimately injure the infant by causing bone fractures. Misuse of birth-assistive tools such as vacuums and forceps, for instance, can inflict too much pressure against the baby’s body (including the skull) and crack or break the bone. Pulling on an infant who is stuck behind the pubic bone could also cause clavicle or collarbone fractures.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Incorrect birthing methods run the risk of injuring an infant’s spinal cord. Pulling, rotating or twisting the baby’s body during the birthing process could damage the vertebrae, disks or nerves that make up the spine. Sadly, spinal cord damage in an infant cannot always be treated or reversed. The infant may suffer permanent paralysis and a variety of other serious injuries.

If your child has sustained a birth injury of any kind in Connecticut, your family may be eligible for financial compensation. Contact the New Haven medical malpractice lawyers at Jacobs & Jacobs for a free case consultation.

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