Are you drowning in medical bills due to injuries from your child’s premature birth?
Early birth is linked to injuries that cause long-term issues like ADHD, chronic lung disease, severe digestive problems, cerebral palsy, and more conditions that require additional care.
What you may not know is that your doctor could be liable for the birth injury that’s responsible for your child’s current health condition.
To see if you’re eligible to sue, let’s walk through everything you need to know about early birth injuries.
Birth Injury and Birth Defects: Differences and Similarities
First, let’s talk about what a birth injury is not.
Birth injuries are often lumped in with birth defects, but birth defects are health problems either inherited or triggered by environmental conditions before birth.
Roughly 3% of all U.S. births are inflicted with a birth defect. These are the 10 most common types of birth defects right now according to the CDC:
- Down syndrome
- Cleft lip
- Cleft Palate
- Atrioventricular Septal Defect (AVSD)
- Rectal and large intestinal atresia/stenosis
- Tetralogy of Fallot
- Spina bifida
- Upper limbs reduction defect
- Transposition of great arteries (TGA)
Many inherited or acquired birth defects do result in early birth injuries, and not all cases are subject to legal action.
However, certain neglectful actions (such as prescribing the wrong medication during a pregnancy can result in birth defects) could mean the doctor is liable.
How Do Birth Injuries Occur?
Birth injuries are injuries that are inflicted during birth.
If your doctor or their staff are responsible for the following actions, you may have grounds for legal action:
- Dislocation of an infant’s limbs during the birthing process.
- Not using medical equipment or tools properly.
- Prescribing and administering the wrong medications during and before birth.
- Negligent health monitoring before and after birth.
- Not responding to infant distress.
- Not performing a C-section if necessary.
- Preventable complications during early birth.
- Inexperienced Physicians not trained in high-risk births.
This last point is extremely important.
Today, experienced physicians are able to gauge when a pregnant patient is at risk of having an early birth through technology and health moderation.
So, which patients are more at risk for early birth injury?
Reasons can range anywhere from pre-existing issues to complications during pregnancy.
Common Causes and Risks For Early Birth
On average, 15 million infants worldwide are born prematurely each year. In the U.S. alone, 1 in 10 infants are born early.
A typical pregnancy should last around 40 weeks, so premature births fall into one of these three categories:
- Extremely premature or preterm, which are infants born before 28 weeks.
- Very premature, which are infants born between 28 and 32 weeks.
- Moderate premature births are those infants born between 32 and 37 weeks.
It’s reported that 1 million premature infants die annually from health complications due to early birth.
Common causes and risks for early labor can include:
- Multiple previous pregnancies or miscarriages
- Carrying twins, triplets, or more
- Infections during pregnancy
- Infections or problems with placenta
- Complications from diabetes
- Eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia
- High blood pressure
- Problems with the shape of the uterus and cervix
- Using drugs throughout a pregnancy
- Smoking cigarettes
- Kidney or heart disease
- Poor prenatal and antenatal care
- Laborious work or exercise, like heavy lifting.
- Unknown causes
As you can see from the list, there are several preventable factors.
For example, while it’s your responsibility to not smoke or take drugs while pregnant, your physician is also responsible for administering adequate pre and post-natal care. That includes prescribing the right medications, monitoring for foreseeable complications, and performing proper delivery procedures to avoid a birth injury.
Infants who are born before that 38-week mark are more at risk of long-term health effects. And the earlier a child is born, the more at risk they are.
Long-Term Effects of Early Birth-Related Injuries
Premature infants do not get enough oxygen to their brains, and this leaves them vulnerable to a myriad of health issues.
Early birth can result in infant brain hemorrhages, severely low birth weight, jaundice, and feeding problems.
According to March of Dimes, babies who are born early are also more at risk for having developmental delays in the following areas:
- Learning in school
- Communication and social skills
Moreover, early birth can result in these long-term physical effects:
- Hearing and vision loss
- Intestinal-related conditions and diseases
- Vulnerabilities to pneumonia and meningitis
- Dental issues from delayed tooth development
- Respiratory issues such as asthma
- Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a chronic lung disease
Early birth is also known to cause behavioral issues like childhood anxiety and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (more commonly known as ADHD).
Birth Injury, Early Birth & Cerebral Palsy: What You Need To Know
There are also significant connections between, birth injuries, early birth, and cerebral palsy, the most common childhood motor disability disorder today.
It’s estimated that 4 out of every 1,000 births worldwide result in cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects mobility, and it’s directly caused by brain damage acquired during or after birth.
Cerebral palsy is considered the most severe health condition caused by birth injury to date. Physicians who commit the following actions before, during, and after birth may be liable for cerebral palsy complications:
- Neglecting moderating, diagnosing or treating infections during pregnancy.
- Not moderating for at-risk umbilical chord issues.
- Not moderating distress.
- Failing to perform an emergency c-section.
- Improper use of medical tools and equipment.
Study: The Link Between Early Birth Injuries and Autism
More studies are emerging suggesting a direct link between autism and injuries sustained from early birth complications.
Roughly 80% of children with autism and other developmental issues have endured some type of birth injury.
Early birth injuries like late emergency c-sections, internal hemorrhaging, and complications with labor induction are frequently seen in Autism cases.
Your Doctor: Responsibilities and Liabilities
Your doctor has an ethical responsibility to provide proper treatment during pregnancy, childbirth, and after your child is born.
You deserve peace of mind, and the long-term consequences of birth injuries can bestow a hefty financial burden on you and your family.
If you’re concerned your child’s short or long-term health condition is the result of a birth injury, you may have grounds to sue your doctor for medical malpractice.
At the first hint of concern, seek a free case evaluation or talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer and learn all your options.