Cerebral palsy is a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture that is caused by injury or abnormal development in the immature brain, most often before birth. In unborn children, a lack of oxygen to the brain, or asphyxia, during labor or delivery may cause the condition to occur resulting in a brain injury or death.
Shoulder dystocia is when the baby’s head has been born but one or both of the shoulders becomes stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone, preventing the birth of the baby’s body. Additional injuries such as brachial plexus or oxygen deprivation may result to the child, but mothers are also a risk for injuries including hemorrhage, uterine ruptures, severe lacerations or vaginal fistula, caused by shoulder dystocia.
Brachial plexus injuries and Erb’s palsy
Brachial plexus are a bundle of nerves located in the shoulder, arm, and hand that attach to the spinal cord. Injuries to the brachial plexus occur when the nerves in the brachial plexus area become stretched or torn. In very severe cases of brachial plexus injury, called avulsion, the nerve root is torn from the spinal cord. Erb’s palsy is a form of brachial plexus injury.
Kernicterus occurs as a result of severe, untreated jaundice, a condition diagnosed when a baby has a high amount of bilirubin in their blood. Kernicterus is a rare and serious neurological condition associated with brain damage. It can lead to athetoid cerebral palsy, hearing loss and problems with vision and teeth. In severe cases, untreated kernicterus may cause death.
Other birth injuries
Many other birth injuries include facial paralysis and bone fractures as well as serious conditions resulting from perinatal asphyxia and spinal cord injuries. These conditions may lead to developmental delays, permanent paralysis, brain injury and death.
In some cases, a birth injury may have been preventable. Many birth injuries occur as a result of medical negligence or malpractice by a doctor, nurse or other medical professional responsible for caring for the mother and child. Parents may not also know when an injury to their child could have been prevented. However, certain circumstances are urgent during labor and delivery and should be treated as such. Red flags should be raised in a parents’ mind when they notice that urgent care was not provided in these situations.
Although every experience is different, parents should be aware of a few things that can lead to future problems. One of the most common mistakes is a delay in ordering or performing a C-section (Caesarean section). In addition, failing to timely respond to distress shown by changes in the baby’s heartbeat on a fetal monitor may cause a birth injury. Likewise, causing or failing to respond to the umbilical cord being entrapped or compressed, misuse of Pitocin, failing to diagnose and treat jaundice and allowing the pregnancy to go beyond 41 weeks without proper testing, or 42 weeks in any event may also cause birth or brain injuries to the mother and child.
The Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys at Messa & Associates are experienced at handling medical malpractice cases resulting in birth injuries. Our extremely skilled team of medical malpractice attorneys and medical experts is dedicated to ensuring you receive proper compensation for your personal injuries. If you child has suffered from or a loved one has suffered a birth injury such as cerebral palsy, brachial plexus, shoulder dystocia, Erb’s palsy or any other type of birth injury, contact the medical malpractice attorneys of Messa & Associates for a free consultation. Call toll free at 1-877-MessaLaw, or submit a free online inquiry.
Joseph L. Messa, Jr. is the founding partner of Messa & Associates, P.C. He is an AV-rated attorney (highest rating available), listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. Read More