During the process of childbirth, the birth parents typically experience feelings ranging from exhaustion to elation. Having endured the exertion required to bring a baby into the world, a laboring mother is usually relieved to rest with her infant child drowsing on her chest. In a tableau recognized throughout the world, the vision of mother and babe is a heart-warming one.
For some parents, though, the tranquil moments after the emotionally-heightened period of labor never materialize. Rather than sharing a first nap, mother and child are separated in order for tests to be conducted on the newly-born child. Reasons for removing the baby from his mother varies: respiration issues, palsy, shoulder dystocia or pulmonary hypertension. Some issues that present themselves are a result of birth defects while others become manifest through birth injuries caused during labor.
Below are basic facts regarding options available to parents should they believe that their newborn's health was negatively impacted during childbirth:
1. What is the difference between a birth defect and a birth injury?
A birth defect develops as a result of the child's DNA. If the parents have a history of heart problems or are carriers for Down syndrome, their child will have a higher chance of inheriting these conditions. Other types of birth defects can arise within the womb as a result of environmental issues, such as air pollution, cigarette smoke or alcohol intake. It is suspected that children born with asthma, autism or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder developed these conditions before childbirth.
On the other hand, birth injuries manifest when an error is made in the delivery room. Cerebral palsy, Erb's palsy, shoulder dystocia and other cognitive disorders are associated with medical mistakes.
2. How often do complications present themselves in the delivery room?
Studies indicate that for every 1,000 children born in the United States, five will suffer from injuries sustained at birth. According to the CDC, about one in every 33 newborns suffers from birth defects. In each case, the possibility for complications is low; however, the life-long implications of either condition are serious.
3. What should I do should I suspect my child is suffering from a birth injury?
As is the case with most issues addressed in court, documentation is important. Whatever information you can gather from procedures conducted before, during and after delivery may support claims of medical malpractice. Speaking with any staff assisting during the delivery may also elicit answers. These forms of documentation will aid an attorney in building a case.
The route to proving medical malpractice is long and winding. For this reason, it is recommended that parents who believe that their child's health and well-being have been impacted as a result of a doctor's error seek out the advice of a knowledgeable attorney. These advocates are well-versed in the procedures that are to be followed during litigation.