The Long Lasting Effects Of Birth Injuries
Childbirth has always been a risky business for both mother and baby. In 15th century Florence, upper-class woman would make their Will as soon as they found out they were pregnant because childbirth at the time was so dangerous.
Countless infants died during birth (or soon after) or were left with life-changing injuries due to a lack of medical knowledge regarding childbirth.
Thankfully, medical care before, during and after childbirth has vastly improved; however, mistakes still happen in the delivery room which can result in the new life full of promise transforming into a lifetime of dependence and pain – all in a matter of minutes.
Types of birth injuries
There are many ways a child can be severely injured due to negligent care by health professionals during labour. Types of birth injury include:
Brachial Plexus Injuries (BPI)
This type of injury involves damage to the nerves that originate from the upper spine and go through the neck, shoulder, arm, and hand and can range from mild and temporary through to permanent and severe. Severe brachial plexus injuries involve the nerves being torn from the spine, causing permanent paralysis.
In a complicated delivery, a baby’s delicate bones can be fractured; especially the collarbone. Bone fractures are often caused by incorrect use of forceps.
The NHS has been forced to pay out millions in compensation over the years to sufferers of cerebral palsy; some of whom require intensive, lifelong care after being starved of oxygen at birth.
Symptoms of cerebral palsy usually become apparent within the first three years of an infant’s life and can include muscle spasms, muscle weakness and balance and co-ordination difficulties.
Cuts and nicks to a foetus may occur if a caesarean is carried out negligently. Although most are minor, sometimes they can be serious enough to require reconstructive surgery.
In rare cases infant brain haemorrhages can occur due to the baby being dropped by hospital staff soon after birth or following the use of forceps or a ventouse.
Following a long and/or stressful delivery, small blood vessels located beneath a baby’s eye can rupture. This can occasionally lead to permanent eye damage. The chances of a subconjunctival haemorrhage occurring increases if birth-assisting tools are used.
Birth injuries and the effect on a child’s development
Birth injuries can have a direct effect on an individual’s future development, character and learning. For example, labour complications resulting in a reduction of oxygen to the foetus can lead to permanent brain damage. A baby who experiences a shoulder dystocia may end up with lifelong paralysis in the shoulder or arm.
Developmental delays have also been linked to birth trauma. This can manifest in a baby crawling or walking later than his or her peers or having delayed language development.
Behavioural disorders such as ADHD have also been linked to complications during or directly after birth.
In the first few months of 2016 there have been a number of large birth injury claims settled in the UK including:
- A £7.5 million settlement from the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust after a girl was starved of oxygen at birth in Lister Hospital. The medical staffs’ negligence resulted in her having permanent brain damage and the money received will help fund the care she will require for life.
- A compensation package worth £12 million paid to a boy who will need a lifetime of care after staff at Bishop Auckland Hospital, County Durham, failed to recognise that he was feeding inadequately.
Nothing can prepare a parent, who has dreamt of a healthy baby for nine months, for the shock and devastation of coping with an injured infant who may never live an independent life. Although the dreams of the parents may have to change to accommodate a new reality, support and compensation can assist in giving children who have been affected physically or mentally by negligent care during childbirth, the chance of a normal life.
At IBB our personal injury team led by Malcolm Underhill, has the expertise and knowledge to advise and represent you if you wish to make a claim for a birth injury. To talk about how we might be able to help, please phone us on 0333 123 9099, email us at email@example.com or fill in our contact form. Any discussions you have with us will be in the strictest of confidence.