Birth injuries affect either the mother or baby just before, during or after the labor and delivery process. While minor injuries are common, some infants experience more serious birth injuries. When a health care provider’s negligent action or inaction caused the injury, you may be eligible for legal damages.
These are the answers to the most common questions expectant parents have about birth injuries.
Who is at risk for a birth injury?
Birth injuries may result from natural labor and delivery when the fetus weighs more than 10 pounds and/or is in an abnormal birthing position. In this case, the doctor may recommend a cesarean section for safe delivery. The risk for birth injuries rises when doctors use forceps to assist with a difficult natural delivery, when an infant is born prematurely, when the mother is obese and when the vaginal canal cannot accommodate the baby’s size or position.
What types of birth injuries occur?
Head injuries are the most common type of birth injury affecting infants. Some injuries are minor, such as bruising, scratching or swelling of the scalp. Other head injuries, such as blood accumulation around the skull, resolve in a few weeks without treatment. Certain head injuries during birth require immediate medical attention, including bleeding in and around the brain and skull fracture.
Infants may also experience nerve and spinal cord injuries, broken bones and decreased blood or oxygen flow. The impact of these birth injuries, which are relatively rare, depends on their severity.
What steps should I take after a birth injury?
Make sure your child receives appropriate medical care and carefully document the treatment provided and the circumstances that led to the injury. If you decide to file a medical malpractice case, you must do so within two years of the injury.
When you bring a medical malpractice complaint to a Virginia court, an expert panel will review the circumstances to determine whether the health care team acted appropriately and with reasonable care. These findings are not legally binding, but can serve as evidence if you move forward with a lawsuit.