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What Are The Causes?

Some birth injuries are not “predictable,” resulting instead due to errors in the delivery room. However, in other cases the risk factors for birth injury may be known in advance.

Some of the factors that may increase the risk of a birth injury include:

  • Maternal obesity: If the mother has a body mass index of 30 or higher, the risk of complications during pregnancy increases, including high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.

  • Fetal macrosomia: This is the medical term for a baby that is overly large (9 pounds or heavier), making vaginal birth more difficult or inadvisable.

  • Gestational diabetes: Some women may develop diabetes in the course of pregnancy. Gestational diabetes increases the risk of preeclampsia (a potentially life-threatening condition characterized by high blood pressure) as well as preterm birth and respiratory distress in babies.

  • Breach birth: Birth injuries are more likely if the baby is not positioned to exit the birth canal head-first. A breach birth occurs when the baby is delivered feet-first, which may result in the fetus being deprived of oxygen.

  • Cephalopelvic disproportion: Significant disparity between the size of the baby and the mother’s pelvis may result in complicated labour.

  • Maternal infection: Undiagnosed and unmanaged infections in the mother may increase the likelihood of birth defects.

  • Premature birth: Babies born before they reach full term may require hospitalization in the neonatal intensive care unit to overcome developmental deficits. Even with proper care, babies born prematurely are at risk for a range of birth defects and injuries.

When obstetricians and other practitioners fail to account for these issues, the risk of harm to the mother as well as the baby increases.

Obstetric Malpractice

Obstetrics is the medical specialty concerned with providing care for expectant mothers and their babies. An obstetrician (OB) or obstetrician-gynaecologist (OBGYN) has a number of responsibilities to the mother and her baby during the course of pregnancy and through labour and delivery.

Unfortunately, negligence on the part of an obstetrician or OBGYN can lead to birth injuries and endanger the mother. Examples of obstetric malpractice include:

  • Failure to perform prenatal screenings that could reveal serious birth defects

  • Errors in monitoring the development of the fetus

  • Failure to diagnose and manage gestational diabetes

  • Failure to diagnose and manage maternal infections

  • Misuse of fertility drugs

  • Errors in the administration of pitocin and other labour-inducing drugs

  • Failure to monitor fetal distress

  • Improper use of forceps or vacuum extractors

  • Failure to order a cesarean section

As you can see, obstetric and OBGYN malpractice can occur at any point during pregnancy and birth. If you suspect negligence harmed you and/or your child, it is important to contact a birth injury lawyer as soon as possible. 

Errors in Newborn Care

Newborn babies may also suffer birth injuries due to errors in neonatal care. Delayed diagnosis and misdiagnosis are common in cases where a birth injury arises from negligence in the precious early stages of a baby’s life.

Conditions that can pose a serious risk to a baby’s health without prompt diagnosis and proper treatment include:

  • Jaundice: Jaundice occurs when the blood has too much bilirubin, a byproduct of the body’s breakdown of red blood cells. It is characterized by a yellowing of the skin and eyes. Jaundice in babies should always be taken seriously; excess bilirubin can result in kernicterus, a condition that can lead to brain damage.

  • Hypoglycemia: Newborns with untreated low blood sugar may have trouble breathing, suffer from seizures, and more.

  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN): PPHN occurs when the blood vessels in a baby’s lungs do not get enough oxygen. Insufficient oxygen (hypoxia) can damage the brain and other parts of the body.

  • Seizures: Neonatal seizures can have a variety of causes. If your child suffered a birth injury during labour or developed a serious condition after birth, timely diagnosis is crucial.

Many of these conditions may be detectable in the first hours or days after a baby is born. The negligence of medical staff in these crucial moments may lead to serious injuries that can affect children throughout their lives.

Who Is Liable for Birth Injuries?

Depending on the circumstances, one or more medical practitioners may be at fault for the injuries you and/or your child suffered. Our birth injury lawyers will thoroughly investigate your case to identify errors in care and the individuals and/or institutions responsible.

Birth injury claims may be brought against:

  • Obstetricians and OBGYNs

  • Surgeons

  • Anaesthesiologists

  • Midwives and doulas

  • Pediatricians

You may also be able to file a claim against the hospital that employs a doctor, nurse, or other member of staff whose negligence harmed you or your baby.

Building a Birth Injury Claim

Birth injury claims are complex. When you and your loved ones are trying to process the ramifications that your child’s birth injury will have on you and your family, the last thing you should have to worry about is handling a legal claim.

The birth injury lawyers at Wraith Law Group can take the following steps on your behalf:

  • Reviewing medical records for the mother and child, including prenatal care, labour, delivery, and neonatal care

  • Hiring expert witnesses to assess the nature of the birth injury and its long-term or permanent effects on your child’s life

  • Identifying the birth errors that may have led to the injury, as well as the practitioner or practitioners who may be at fault

  • Calculating the current and future damages in your claim

It is important to understand that not all birth injuries are the result of medical negligence. However, if malpractice was a factor in the harm your child suffered, our team will investigate thoroughly and pursue the compensation you and your family deserve.

What Damages Are Recoverable for a Birth Injury?

One of the most complicated aspects of a birth injury claim is accurately calculating the damages you and your family are facing. Unlike many other injury claims, the majority of the losses extend years or even decades into the future.

Testimony by expert witnesses is crucial for establishing the financial impact of a birth injury as well as the non-economic losses the child and his or her family may suffer. You and your loved ones may be entitled to compensation for the following damages:

  • The present and future cost of medical expenses not covered by the Medical Services Plan (therapies, treatments, home-based healthcare, assistive devices, travel for medical appointments, etc.)

  • Pain and suffering resulting from physical injuries, cognitive deficiencies, psychological distress, etc.

  • Loss of earning capacity  

  • Lost wages of parents when caring for their child prevents them from working

If your child tragically died as a result of a birth injury, you and other members of your family may be entitled to compensation through a wrongful death claim. Damages you may be able to recover through a birth injury wrongful death claim include medical expenses, funeral and burial or cremation expenses, loss of society and companionship, and more.

Medical Malpractice and Birth Defects

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