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When is harm at birth an injury and when is it a birth defect?

On Behalf of | May 19, 2021 | Malpractice |

Many new parents in Colorado and across the country must deal with reports that their newborn baby has problems. However, they might be unsure whether the cause is negligence by the medical team who handled the birth. This is because it could be a birth defect, and not an injury suffered during the birthing process.

A birth defect typically occurs during pregnancy. Genetics, untreated infections, drug use and improper nutrition are some of the causes of birth defects. Some of these could make valid medical practice claims but not necessarily committed by the medical team handling the birth. In contrast, a range of preventable injuries could occur due to negligence during the delivery of the baby.

Brain injury

Brain injuries, which are some of the most common birth injuries, are typically caused by asphyxia or oxygen starvation, which could result from umbilical cord choking the infant. Trauma caused by the methods used to assist the delivery could cause bleeding in the infant’s brain.

Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) is a brain dysfunction that results from insufficient oxygen or blood supply during the birthing process. Placental breeding, umbilical cord relapse, or a wrongly positioned fetus could cause HIE, as could an abnormally long labor.

Cerebral Palsy

This is another consequence of brain injuries that occur during birth. The cause could be a stroke, heart attack, lack of oxygen or bleeding in the brain. Infection and fever resulting from medical negligence can also cause cerebral palsy. It could affect a child’s mental functions, vision, hearing, muscle control and ability to speak.

Erb’s Palsy

This birth injury, also called brachial plexus palsy, causes paralysis in the infant’s arm, hand or shoulder. It results from the medical team pulling on the head or neck of the baby during delivery or pulling on the feet of an infant in a breech delivery.

The consequences of these birth injuries vary in severity, with some causing permanent damage and lifelong medical treatment and medication. Surgical procedures might be necessary. Parents in Colorado can pursue financial relief through the civil justice system by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in appropriate circumstances.


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