Types of Birth Injuries and How They Affect a Family’s Life 

By Osborne & Francis
October 25, 2023

The birth of a child is intended to be a joyous occasion. The unfortunate reality is that a medical provider’s negligence can lead to a lifetime of medical issues for your child. A birth injury can impact the lifestyle and financial future of your family, your child’s quality of life and physical health, and your family’s mental health. In the midst of dealing with unexpected birth trauma, it can be difficult to make pursuing compensation a priority. 

The Florida birth injury lawyers of Osborne & Francis can make your family’s needs our priority and negotiate to maximize your compensation. To schedule a free consultation with our experienced birth injury attorneys, you can reach us at (561) 678-0156 or contact our offices in Boca Raton or Orlando. We can provide you with the expert legal advice you need to make an informed decision about pursuing compensation for damages.

Types of Florida Birth Injuries 

Brain Damage in Infants Can Result in Permanent Cognitive Impairments

When the brain is deprived of blood flow and oxygen, brain cells quickly die off, in turn compromising critical functions. Brain damage can occur when a baby becomes stuck during labor, the umbilical cord is compromised, or a placental abruption occurs. This is one of the most severe forms of birth injuries.

Common examples of brain injuries in infants include:

  • Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy
  • Brain bleed
  • Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL)
  • Hydrocephalus 
  • Caput Succedaneum

Brain damage at birth can have life-long consequences, such as learning disabilities, vision problems, and other cognitive impairments.

Nerve Damage During Delivery Can Lead to Facial Paralysis 

Facial paralysis can occur when an infant’s facial nerve is damaged during delivery. This is rare, but more common during longer labors and with larger babies. In effect, babies with damage to the seventh cranial nerve lose the ability to control certain facial muscles. Babies with facial paralysis may have difficulty eating, speaking, and smiling.

Fractures May Occur During Atypical Deliveries

During delivery, babies may be positioned in such a way that delivery is more difficult, such as in the breech position. A fracture may occur as they make their way through the birth canal. If their arm or shoulder becomes caught, this may result in a shoulder or collarbone fracture. This can cause permanent nerve damage in extreme cases if the baby's shoulder is severely fractured or dislocated.

Compromised Oxygen Flow May Result in Cerebral Palsy

According to the CDC, Cerebral Palsy can be caused by “detachment of the placenta, uterine rupture, or problems with the umbilical cord during birth” that result in oxygen deprivation to the brain. Children with Cerebral Palsy typically have difficulty controlling their muscles, although this condition can range widely in severity. Cerebral palsy caused during delivery is rare and accounts for less than 20% of all cases.

Brachial Plexus Injuries Can Significantly Limit Mobility

A brachial plexus injury is a type of shoulder injury that can occur during delivery. This type of injury is more common when a baby is larger than average, the baby is facing the wrong way, or labor has been abnormally long.  Essentially the nerves of the shoulder are stretched or severed. Depending on the severity, a brachial plexus injury can be treated with physical therapy or surgery to avoid muscle weakness and loss of sensation in the shoulder, elbow, arm, or hand.

Jaundice Can Result in Brain Damage, Other Injuries

When a baby is born, their liver is still developing. The liver is responsible for filtering out anything the body doesn’t need, including toxins. Jaundice can occur when the liver is unable to process bilirubin, a substance that the body releases as the body’s red blood cells break down. If left untreated, jaundice can result in Cerebral Palsy and hearing loss.

Birth Trauma Can Cause Cephalohematoma 

Newborns can develop Cephalohematoma from pressure caused by forceps or their mother’s pushing. Cephalohematoma occurs when blood pools between the baby’s scalp and their skull. These areas are generally self-contained, and the blood doesn’t put dangerous pressure on the brain because the skull separates the two. In some cases, cephalohematoma can result in jaundice, infection, or anemia. Typically, a diagnosis can be made by locating a bulge on the baby’s head.

Spinal Cord Injuries Can Cause Paralysis in Infants

Spinal cord injuries can have a profound impact on a child’s mobility and sensation throughout their body. Depending on the location of the spinal cord injury, a baby with a spinal cord injury may lose motor control and sensation. Spinal cord injuries most commonly occur when a provider is too rough in removing the baby from the birth canal, sometimes with the help of forceps. Additionally, babies that have spina bifida may be at a higher risk of sustaining a spinal cord injury, as part of their spine remains unprotected.

Forceps Can Injure Infants, Causing Bruising and Skull Fractures

A medical provider may employ forceps to assist with delivery. Forceps are metal instruments that a provider may use in conjunction with the mother’s pushing in order to help pull the baby out. The marks left on the baby’s face or head are usually temporary and fade not long after birth. However, babies' skulls are notoriously soft in their first few months of life as their bones finish forming. This means they are more vulnerable to injury. If a provider was too rough or firm with the forceps, the baby may sustain a skull fracture, temporary facial nerve palsy, or a brain bleed.

Injuries to the Mother Can Impact the Infant’s Health

Mothers with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, substance abuse issues, and heart conditions may lead to complications during delivery that result in birth injury. Or, when a mother suffers trauma, it can negatively affect the health of her child. For example, if a pregnant woman loses consciousness and stops breathing after a slip-and-fall accident, her baby is not getting oxygen either. Oxygen deprivation can quickly result in severe brain damage.

Lasting Consequences of Birth Injuries to Mothers and Babies

Birth injuries often entail additional medical bills and financial losses related to both short and long-term treatment. However, there is also a significant psychological component to account for when discussing the impact of birth injuries. Mothers may blame themselves for any injury to their child, or be understandably upset that a preventable birth injury occurred. 

Taking care of a healthy infant is overwhelming enough, but dealing with an avoidable birth injury adds stress. Also consider that a mother may be physically recovering from a traumatic delivery and trying to combat postpartum depression. This may jeopardize both her physical and mental health further.

As for babies with birth injuries, they may have permanently impaired brain function, mobility issues, and other challenges as they grow. As they get older, they may struggle in school, have trouble finding a job, or maintaining healthy relationships. Early intervention and consistent support can mitigate some of these challenges, which is why you may want to consider seeking compensation so that you have additional resources to support your child.

What Causes a Birth Injury and Who’s At Fault?

Birth injuries can vary widely in terms of severity and cause. Common causes of Florida birth injuries include medication error, surgical error, improper delivery room practices, and misdiagnosis of or failure to diagnose health issues in utero. In most of these scenarios, a negligent provider is at fault.

Medical providers who facilitate deliveries often work in a chaotic environment under stressful circumstances. That being said, they are still responsible for ensuring that they meet the standard of care. In a medical context, the standard of care means that you could expect comparable care between providers with similar experience and specialization under similar circumstances. 

If your delivery room provider has made a mistake that another provider in the same specialty with the same level of experience would not make, that may qualify as medical malpractice. In a birth injury medical malpractice claim, individual providers may be named, but the hospital or its administration may also be named if their policies or negligent decisions resulted in a birth injury. In other cases, a defective medical product may be the cause of a birth injury, in which case the manufacturers or distributors may be held liable for damages.

What Damages Can You Recover if Your Baby is Injured Because of Medical Malpractice?

After your child has suffered a birth injury, even in the best case scenario you are likely facing additional medical bills and emotional distress. At worst, you may be trying to cope with a lifetime of impairments for your child, or reckoning with a wrongful death. Compensation can offer you some degree of relief for your physical, emotional, and financial losses related to your child’s birth injury caused by medical malpractice.

Examples of Damages in a Birth Injury Lawsuit:

Medical expenses:

  • Lab tests
  • Imaging
  • Medication
  • Surgery
  • Hospital stays
  • Physical therapy
  • Home modifications
  • Mobility aids
  • Home medical equipment

Job-related losses:

  • Lost wages
  • Reduced earning capacity
  • Missed promotions

Pain and suffering

Loss of quality of life

Wrongful death:

  • Loss of companionship
  • Funeral and burial expenses

When enumerating your damages, you need to consider the long-term costs you are likely to incur in order to ensure that your child receives the treatment they need. You or your spouse may need to quit your job to become their caregiver or you may need to hire a full time home nurse. Even the adjacent costs, like the cost of transportation to and from doctor appointments, should be included in your list of damages. A medical malpractice attorney can help you accurately calculate what your birth injury claim is worth.

Why Should I Choose Osborne & Francis to Represent Me?

In all likelihood, you will be facing the negligent provider’s medical malpractice insurance carrier, who is motivated to pay out as little as possible. That means you need an unyielding negotiator to represent you in your Florida birth injury claim. At Osborne & Francis, we have a reputation for being fierce advocates for our injured clients. 

We have earned this by persistently negotiating for maximum compensation, protecting our client’s rights, and standing up to stubborn insurance companies. As our former clients will attest, our team is composed of knowledgeable and compassionate birth injury attorneys who will go above and beyond for you. While you focus on caring for your child, let our team handle the work of pursuing maximum compensation for your birth injury claim.

Contact Osborne and Francis to Discuss Your Birth Injury Lawsuit Today

If a medical provider’s negligence has resulted in your child’s birth injury, you should consider taking legal action to ensure that you recover a fair settlement for your damages. While taking legal action is the last thing most people want to think about when managing their child’s birth injury, it is critical to ensuring that you don’t suffer unfair financial consequences and a negligent provider is held accountable.

The Florida birth injury lawyers of Osborne & Francis have been trusted by Florida families for nearly a decade. You can rely on us to handle complex personal injury claims with an unwavering focus and a strategic approach. Our team is prepared to go to trial if that’s what it takes to secure a fair settlement for your family.

At Osborne & Francis, you will receive personalized attention you deserve and the outstanding results you expect. To schedule a free consultation with our knowledgeable birth injury lawyers, you can reach us at (561) 678-0156 or contact our offices in Boca Raton or Orlando. Our team will support you as you navigate the process of filing a Florida birth injury lawsuit.

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