In today’s progressive climate of neonatal medicine, birth injury is rare enough that few people anticipate it. After centuries of childbirth being known as a dangerous and unpredictable undertaking, an average of 6 to 8 injuries per 1000 live births seems like a great step forward.
However, for the percentage of those affected, it might as well still be the Middle Ages. The experience of seeing your newborn child suffer within moments of entering the world cannot be reduced to a statistic.
The suffering only mounts when that injury is cast as a birth defect, leaving parents with doubt and misinformation as to their options for helping their child recover.
Scrutiny of Birth Trauma Statistics
While there are many statistics tracking the reduction of infant deaths due to birth injury and trauma, the facts surrounding long-term effects on surviving babies due to medical negligence are not as transparent.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control estimate that two million birth injuries occur every year. In terms of specific, widespread conditions that result from birth injuries or trauma, there remains a larger variable; so is the understanding of how those injuries take place.
More Than One Cause for Cerebral Palsy
Among the statistics of birth injuries, one of the most common medical issues that occurs around childbirth is cerebral palsy.
The condition is caused by irregularities in the brain’s formation. These can happen due to trauma or injury during pregnancy, during the birth process, or even after the baby is born. Cerebral palsy can affect muscle coordination, motor skills, and oral motor functioning. Individual results from a malformation depend on what part of the brain is affected and the time it occurs during the brain’s development.
Every case of cerebral palsy is unique, and so are its effects on the newborn child. What’s more common is the reaction of parents who receive the diagnosis. As recounted by the experienced advocates at CerebralPalsy.org, every parent’s immediate response is, “How did this happen to my child?”
There Shouldn’t Be Surprises
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that most birth defects are detectable even within early stages of pregnancy. As the baby’s organs begin to form during the first trimester, adequate medical care includes noticing abnormalities in the baby’s development. Prenatal babies can be tested prenatally for genetic conditions, such as Down syndrome and certain types of muscular dystrophy, by amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling.
Even if the cause of a birth defect isn’t immediately detectable, the majority of defects or symptoms of defects are apparent enough that parents can be prepared and, in many cases, measures can be taken to lessen the impact.
In other words, when the baby makes its appearance into the world, there usually shouldn’t be a surprise regarding health.
Unraveling the Cause
For new parents who had reason to expect a healthy delivery, the appearance of a baby with long-term health impairment is devastating. The first thing they want to know is “Why?”
Diagnosing tools such as MRIs and CT scans are the first method that doctors will use to establish the scope of a birth trauma. These images show the type of damage, and let parents know what to expect in their child’s future development.
But diagnosis can’t reveal how the damage was caused.
Most parents take the word of their doctor to account for how their child acquired the condition and why, in a case of defect, they weren’t prepared for the knowledge before the child’s birth.
What Really Counts as Negligence
Cases of negligence are not limited to improper use of medical instruments, or waiting too long to perform emergency procedures. Negligence also applies to cases where a family was not fully informed during pregnancy of their child’s likelihood to have an abnormal health condition.
What’s more, common conditions such as breech birth or nuchal cord are usually treatable before or during delivery.
In the case of an abnormal birth condition, it’s vital to start helping the baby rehabilitate as soon as possible after delivery. It’s just as important to begin ascertaining the cause of the condition, whether it is due to defect, or to injury caused by medical negligence.
You Are Not Alone
With all the heartache surrounding the birth of a child who will suffer long-term impairment to their health, the last thing a parent needs is to remain in doubt of how it happened.
The only way to find answers is through investigation. Most families are dealing with their grief and finding ways to help their child recover, and don’t focus their time to perform hours of looking into hospital practice, the doctor’s professional record, and what really took place in the delivery room.
If your child suffers from an abnormal birth condition that you were not previously informed about or is the result of medical negligence, you may need the help of our experienced team at Perey Law Group. Our team is comprised a doctor, a nurse, and former insurance defense attorneys. We want to help you get the answers you need to move forward with your life. Call us at 206-443-7600 for a free consultation, or fill out the contact form at the right of this page.