How to Spot Early Signs of Birth Injuries in Babies


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The birth of a child is one of the most exciting times for many individuals and couples. After anxiously waiting 40 weeks for this new person to develop, it is now time to meet the tiny human that you have created. Many women will have smooth, easy, and uncomplicated labor and delivery experiences that result in the birth of a happy and healthy baby. Unfortunately, this is not true for everyone.

When a baby or mother is injured during pregnancy or delivery because of negligence on behalf of the doctor, hospital, or other medical professionals, medical malpractice has occurred. Do you think your baby suffered from a birth injury because of negligence?

Detecting the Signs of Birth Injuries

The process of suspecting and/or identifying birth injuries is different for each baby. In certain instances, the symptoms will be evident immediately. Other times, you might not recognize that something is wrong until a little further into your hospital stay. There are even circumstances where your baby may not exhibit any signs or symptoms of problems until later in life.

Some of the early, commonly seen signs of birth injuries include:

  • Failure to begin breathing immediately after being delivered
  • Swelling, bruises, or scratches on the infant
  • Requiring CPR or a breathing tube immediately following delivery
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Extremely high-pitched crying
  • Infant arches back while crying
  • Problems with sucking, swallowing, and/or eating
  • Low heart rate
  • Low blood oxygen levels
  • Wheezing
  • Muscle looseness or stiffness
  • One arm that appears to be limp
  • Hand curls up into a claw-like shape
  • Showing favor to one side of the body
  • Weak or deficient reflexes

While the presence of one or more of these symptoms can be an immediate cause of concern, it doesn’t necessarily mean that medical malpractice has occurred. However, if your suspicions are valid and negligence can be proven, you have every right to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Types of Birth Injuries

A baby is completely vulnerable during the labor and delivery process, which is why negligence during this type of medical scenario can be even more disturbing and detrimental to the well-being of the child. As a parent, it is important to understand when and how you can hold your doctor, hospital, and other medical staff accountable for their negligent behavior and wrongdoing.

Each labor and delivery is unique, with each situation presenting unique risks for the baby if the proper steps and precautions are not taken. Following are some of the different types of birth injuries that can have catastrophic results for a baby.

Brain-Related Birth Injuries

Brain-related birth injuries can occur in several different ways. For many babies, they ultimately experience a brain-related injury because of oxygen deprivation. This could be because a medical team allowed the mother to stay in labor for far too long, instead of performing an emergency cesarean section to deliver the baby safely. Oxygen deprivation can also occur if a doctor fails to identify a problem with the umbilical cord.

Other acts of negligence from doctors and medical personnel can lead to brain-related birth injuries. For instance, careless or improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction can leave a baby with lasting injuries. Additionally, serious injuries can result if maternal infections are not properly detected and quickly treated.

One of the most frequently occurring brain-related birth injuries is cerebral palsy. In fact, roughly 10,000 babies that are born each year in the United States will develop cerebral palsy. The most unfortunate detail regarding this condition is that it could often have been prevented if doctors and other medical professionals had taken the necessary preventative measures.

Physical Injuries

While a brain injury may not be immediately apparent, physical injuries that occur during birth are typically easier to recognize and identify. When the upper extremity of an infant’s arm is injured during delivery, the result can be brachial plexus – weakness or inability to use certain muscles of the injured arm. Erb’s palsy occurs when the nerves of the upper arm are injured, and severe cases can result in total paralysis. Klumpke’s palsy involves injury to the lower nerves of the arm, and the hand can permanently take on a claw-like shape.

Taking Legal Action Against Health Professionals

If the arrival of your baby was impacted by negligence, the leading birth injury attorneys at Ross Feller Casey are here to help. No one should have to experience a catastrophic birth injury, especially when it could have been prevented. Contact us today to learn more about your legal options. Ross Feller Casey is the recognized leader in birth injury lawsuits, having one numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.