Birth Injuries in the United States
Six to 8 infants out of every 1,000 are born with a birth injury. The most common birth injuries include brachial plexus injuries (shoulder dystocia), asphyxia (lack of oxygen), spinal cord injuries and cerebral palsy.
Studies have shown that in 2006, more than 150,000 injuries to mothers and newborns COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED. Nearly half of birth injuries are avoidable by the doctor/midwife identifying and planning for obstetrical risk factors.
How Birth Injuries Manifest Themselves
Brain injuries develop due to lack of oxygen prior to or during the birthing process. This can cause a brain hemorrhage, a brain stroke or electrical imbalances causing seizures or even cerebral palsy.
If the infant’s shoulder is pulled too strongly by the delivering doctor or midwife, the nerves can be injured or torn, causing a brachial plexus injury, called shoulder dystocia or Erb’s palsy. This can result in paralysis of the arm. This condition can often be avoided if the risk factors are identified during pregnancy.
Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome is caused when structures of the heart aren’t developed fully, and can be fatal to the baby if not recognized. It can often be diagnosed by prenatal ultrasound and the baby could be saved.
When Is a Birth Injury Medical Malpractice?
If a birth injury could reasonably be detected and either avoided or dealt with, but isn’t, that could be medical malpractice. Anyone with an injured or deceased newborn should consult a medical malpractice attorney, who can get the medical records and have an expert obstetrician review them to determine if the condition could have been avoided or addressed.
Birth Defect Injury
Birth defects affect nearly one in every 33 babies born in the United States each year. Birth defects are the primary cause of infant deaths, accounting for more than 20%. Babies born with birth defects have a larger chance of illness and long-term disability than babies without birth defects. Birth defects occur while a baby is developing in the mother’s body. Birth defects can be discovered up to one year of birth, with the majority of birth defects detected within the first 3 months of pregnancy. The severity of birth defects can range from mild, where a surgery can correct the birth defect or to serious, leading to death.
Types of Birth Defects
Birth defects can affect almost any part of a baby’s body. Approximately 1 out of every 100 to 200 babies born each year are diagnosed with a heart defect. Brain and spine defects are other regular birth defects. These birth defects affect an estimated 1 of 1,000 pregnancies. Brain and spine birth defects are less frequent than heart defects, but they often cause many fetal and infant deaths. Birth defects of the lip and roof of the mouth are also common. These types of birth defects, are known as orofacial clefts, and consist of cleft lip, cleft palate, and combined cleft lip and cleft palate. Cleft lip is more common than cleft palate.
Hypospadias is a birth defect that is considered non-life threatening. Babies with hypospadias, the opening of the urethra (where urine comes out) is not at the tip of the penis but on the underside. Treatment depends on how far away from the tip the opening is and can involve complex surgery. This defect is rarely as serious, but it can cause great concern and sometimes has high medical costs. It seldom causes death.
What Causes Birth Defects
Close to 3% of babies born each year in the United States suffer from birth defects. Women over the age of 35 years have a greater chance of having a child with Down syndrome than women who are younger. Certain prescription drugs taking during pregnancy can increase the chance of birth defects. The following are some drugs that can cause birth defects: Accutane, Crestor, Cytotec, Lamictal, Lexapro, Paxil, Soriatane, and Terbutaline. Lastly some women have a higher chance of delivering a baby with a birth defect because someone in their family had a similar birth defect.
If you or a loved one has taken a prescription medicine and given birth to a child with a birth defect, please fill out the form at the right for a free case evaluation by a qualified defective drug attorney.