Birth Injuries in New Jersey
Becoming a parent is challenging for everyone – regardless of the health of the child. However, children born with disabilities present challenges for their parents for which those parents may not be completely ready or fully understand. Children with disabilities have different needs and can require much higher levels of care than children without disabilities. All children are gifts, however, and all parents love their children. But when your child suffers from a disability that was not identified prior to birth through regular testing, questions can arise regarding how that disability developed.
Causes of Disabilities
Most disabilities are a result of some uncommon genetic issue, such as chromosomal abnormalities and genetic defects. Some disabilities, while genetic in nature, may have been caused by exposure to a toxic substance or substances. However, sometimes the disabilities are the result of the actions of doctors or medical providers during childbirth, causing an otherwise healthy baby to face a life challenged by a disability.
Common Birth Injuries
Birth injuries can take many different forms, and the impact of those injuries can range greatly in terms of severity. However, the most common birth injuries are:
- Swelling of the baby’s scalp. The pressure applied to the baby’s head as he or she travels down the birth canal can cause swelling and bruising. Often this subsides after a few weeks.
- Cephalohematoma is bleeding around the cranial bones. When babies are born, their skulls are not fully fused – this happens as the child grows. Bleeding can occur during childbirth because of the pressures involved, and the bleeding can be large or small. The resulting bump or swelling generally resolves itself in a few weeks; however, large bleeds can calcify and create disfiguring lumps that must be addressed via surgery.
- Forceps injury. Forceps are a tool that is used by the delivering physician to extract the baby from the birth canal. The amount of pressure applied by the forceps can cause minor bruising, but it can also result in skull fractures or deformities that can cause problems for the child later in life.
- Facial paralysis. Facial paralysis is another injury caused by the use of forceps. Nerves in the baby’s face are damaged or torn during birth resulting in one side of the baby’s face being paralyzed. Many times the injury heals itself, but other times surgery is needed.
- Lack of Oxygen. A lack of oxygen to the child’s brain during childbirth often occurs when the umbilical cord is pinched due to prolonged labor or a child being in the improper position for birth (such as presenting breech).
Recognizing the Effects of a Birth Injury
Children that have been injured during birth will present symptoms of those injuries in many different ways. Children with paralysis from nerve injuries will only be able to make facial expressions with one side of the face, and one eye will remain open. Bleeding will show as bruises or lumps. Broken bones will cause the child to limit the motion of the area where the bone is broken. However, other injuries, such as those resulting from a lack of oxygen during birth or improper administration of medications during birth, often do not present themselves as quickly or as clearly.
Signs of Oxygen Deprivation
Children that have been deprived of oxygen during the birthing process or during development may develop many different issues, including neurological and psychological problems, or suffer from cerebral palsy. Psychological problems may not present themselves for years. Neurological problems normally present sooner, as the child will show an inability to crawl, sit, stand, or even roll over at the expected developmental milestones. Children with neurological problems may be unable to hold or manipulate toys or other objects, and may also be abnormally irritable or fussy as they grow.
Many times, it is impossible for a parent to diagnose these conditions or even correctly identify these issues on their own. Proper follow-up visits during the child’s first two years can help identify these problems, which can sometimes be addressed by certain types of physical or other therapy. However, in more serious situations, such as those involving cerebral palsy, identification of the problem will likely occur much earlier, and will also likely require much more involved therapy and assistance.
Contact a Jersey City Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Birth Injury Case in New Jersey
Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in New Jersey? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Chatham medical malpractice attorneys at Blume, Forte, Fried, Zerres & Molinari are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout NJ, including Middletown, Howell, Marlboro, and Manalapan. Call us today at 973-635-5400 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at One Main Street Chatham, NJ 07928 and we also have offices in Jersey City, Sea Girt and North Bergen, NJ.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.