Since newborns have soft skulls that are not sufficiently developed to help protect their brains, babies are at risk for severe brain injuries if they are mishandled during the delivery process. In addition, complications that can occur during the pregnancy or delivery can easily result in a severe injury, leading to lifelong disability or even death. Though some injuries are unavoidable, some newborn brain damage occurs because of the negligent actions of medical professionals. An error on the part of the delivering doctor can seriously alter your baby’s life. If your baby suffered an injury because of a doctor’s negligence, contact the Philadelphia newborn brain damage lawyers of Lowenthal & Abrams, Injury Attorneys, P.C., today to learn how we can help you seek justice.
Sources of Brain Injuries in Fetuses and Babies
Many sources of brain injury in fetuses occur naturally, but, it is the obligation of the obstetrician to be aware of these problems and for him to act quickly should they occur. This means providing proper fetal and maternal monitoring throughout the pregnancy, and responding quickly should issues develop. Deprivation of oxygen to the fetus can cause serious brain injuries. There are two types of lack of oxygen in a fetus. One is hypoxia, which is when there is not an appropriate amount of oxygen and the other is anoxia, which is when there is a total lack of oxygen. The former often causes mild to moderate brain damage, for example, mild oxygen deprivation has been linked to ADHD. The latter can lead to severe brain damage or death. A lawyer in Philadelphia could help a parent whose newborn suffered brain damage and determine the best course of legal action based on its cause.
Problems with the Placenta
The placenta is crucial to the development of your baby. It provides oxygen and nutrients that keep your fetus alive and well while it is growing inside the body. While the placenta does its job in most pregnancies, there are occasions when it develops difficulties.
Placental abruption (or eruption) is when the placenta separates from the uterine wall. Among other problems, an abruption can cause a lack of oxygen to the fetus. During a placental abruption, the mother will experience bleeding, sometimes substantial and both mother and fetus are at risk. Frequently, if the mother experiences an abruption of the placenta, she needs to be placed on bed rest (potentially in the hospital) for monitoring. Often the mother will be unable to carry the baby full term. In severe cases, the fetus can die. The symptoms of placental eruption include pain in the uterus, contractions that do not stop, abnormal fetal heart rate and vaginal bleeding. In addition, the doctor needs to watch out for risk factors in the mother. A history of abruption means that there is a 25% risk that the mother will develop another abruption. Abdominal trauma, uterine defects, hypertension, age, smoking and certain drug use all cause an increased risk of this difficulty.
Umbilical Cord Issues
The Umbilical cord provides oxygen to the fetus. If a problem develops with the umbilical cord, the fetus will experience a lack of oxygen, which, in turn, might cause brain damage. The common problems experienced with the umbilical cord include when it wraps around the baby’s neck, or it becomes knotted, prolapsed or twisted. The doctor must act quickly when there are problems with the cord or the baby/fetus will develop brain damage or even die.
Airway Problems after Birth
Once the baby is born, mucous can become lodged in its lungs. It is critical that the medical team act quickly to clear the lungs so that the baby can breath properly.
Stuck in the Birth Canal
If the mother is having difficulty giving birth, the baby can get stuck in the birth canal. At times during delivery, the medical team might use forceps or a vacuum to help remove the baby from the birth canal. Improper use of these tools can lead to a traumatic brain injury in the baby. It is critical that the doctor intervene quickly to safely remove the baby. If the baby is handling roughly during this time period, he might develop Erb’s Palsy or other issues, in addition to suffering a brain injury.
Infections in the mother are a serious problem for both the mother and the fetus. An intrauterine infection occurs when the fetus is in the womb and can easily result in damage to the baby’s brain. Preeclampsia is another type of infection. It leads to reduced blood flow, which reduces the oxygen level to the fetus.
Too Many Contractions
Sometimes the mother can have too many contractions prior to or during delivery. If the mother is given Pictocin to encourage labor, especially if she is given too much, this is a potential side effect. When there are too many contractions, one after the other, oxygen is interfered with and the fetus can suffer oxygen deprivation. This is why it is critical for the delivery team to close monitor both the mother and fetus during labor.
Impact of Brain Injury on Infants
If your baby suffers a brain injury, he or she is at greater risk for:
- Cerebral palsy
- Brain hemorrhaging
- Physical difficulties, causing life-long issues such as the need for a wheel chair or other devices
- Cognitive developmental problems requiring permanent help in the home or even institutionalization
These are conditions that can affect your baby for the rest of his or her life, requiring permanent and expensive care. Others may even be life-threatening and lead to death. In certain cases, the mother can be seriously injured or die as well. An attorney in Philadelphia can work with a family whose newborn has suffered brain damage to calculate damages for a claim.
How Do Brain Injuries in Infants Affect the Entire Family?
When your baby suffers a brain injury, the entire family will be affected. The costs to take care of and raise a child who suffers from a brain injury are staggering. Depending on how serious the injury is, your baby might require life-long care. This will include at home care, physical and occupational therapy, expensive medical visits and more. The emotional impact on both your baby and your family is extensive as well. From the difficulties you will experience in raising your child to how this new baby in the household will affect the rest of your children, all of you will have your lives changed by this new member of your family. Most people hesitate to file a lawsuit against the doctors and medical team who helped bring their baby into the world. But, if that team committed malpractice, you and your family should not have to suffer the financial expenses and emotional difficulties alone. The compensation you might receive due to the harm your baby suffered cannot make what happened better, but it can alleviate the stress you and your family will experience as well as provide for the future care of your child. If your newborn suffered brain trauma due to a mistake by a medical professional, our Philadelphia attorney could help you seek compensation for any resulting expenses.
Contact a Philadelphia Newborn Brain Damage Attorney
The Philadelphia newborn brain damage lawyers of Lowenthal & Abrams, Injury Attorneys, P.C., can help you fight for financial compensation if your baby suffered a brain injury during delivery. Contact us today for a free legal consultation.