Birth Injuries can be traumatic for infants, mothers- and entire families.
If your family seeks a birth injury lawyer due to medical negligence, or malpractice, Attorney Jason Rappaport is here for you.
You talk. We listen.
As one of the nation’s leading Birth Injury Lawyers, Attorney Rappaport is ready to guide you through every step of your case.
If you need a birth injury lawyer, call (216) 407-5199, to speak with Attorney Rappaport within minutes, and receive a free consultation.
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Birth Injury Settlements
How do you know if you have a birth injury settlement on your hands?
The following are frequent causes for filing a birth injury settlement:
Birth Injury or Birth Defect?
A birth injury is different from a birth defect. A birth defect stems from the structure of a child’s DNA.
This means that most birth defects, unlike birth injuries, are not the direct result of a doctor or physician’s wrongdoing.
Some birth defects, however, are caused as a result of medical negligence. You may have a medical malpractice suit if your doctor or physician prescribed certain prescription pills, such as anti-depressants, during pregnancy. These and other medications have shown to cause birth defects.
Zofran and Birth Defects
Zofran (ondansetron) is commonly prescribed to women for morning sickness. While Zofran has been shown to successfully ease feelings of illness and nausea related to morning sickness, recent evidence suggests that Zofran can produce heart abnormalities in developing babies.
Zofran has been said to cause other birth defects, such as a cleft palate.
A study held in 2012, sources say, determined that infants exposed to Zofran during the time that they are ‘in utero,’ or in the womb, are two-times as likely to have a condition often referred to as a “hole in the heart,” otherwise known as a cardiac septal defect.
*Zofran was initially designed to be used as a medication for cancer patients and others who are severely ill and experiencing extreme nausea. Sources say that Zofran later expanded its market to pregnant women without fully disclosing the drug’s possible effects on infant before birth.
Birth Defect Facts:
Birth defects generally surface during a child’s initial gestation period, or within the first few months of embryonic development.
- One out of every 33 children in the United States is born with some form of a birth defect, medical sources say.
- Birth defects are also known to cause an estimated 1 in 5 infant deaths per-year. [i]
Examples of Birth Defects:
Some examples of birth defects include: cleft lip, spina bifida, heart defects and Downs syndrome.
Certain types of birth defects are easier to detect before birth than others; such as spina bifida or a cleft lip.
Other birth defects, such as a heart murmur or Downs syndrome, are not as easy to see via standard or routine ultrasounds.
A birth trauma is similar to a birth injury. A birth trauma can result in a birth injury.
A birth trauma can occur during delivery or labor. Many birth traumas happen because of an infant’s size, or position during childbirth.
Many birth traumas involve larger infants, or newborns that are delivered at a weight of 8 lbs. or larger.
Trauma to an infant can also occur if a doctor pulls to hard, or yanks on a child as it leaves the birth canal. This type of physical trauma can affect a child’s brain, nerves; and can even cause broken bones.
A child that is breached may also be more likely to experience a birth trauma. A breached infant is an infant that it is not facing outward from the womb with its head, but its buttocks instead.
If the birth of a breached child or a larger infant isn’t handled properly, it can cause unnecessary trauma at birth. Not only does this put an infant at risk for injury, but the mother as well.
What is Birth Trauma?
How do you know if you and your child have experienced a birth trauma?
A prevailing sign that you have experienced a birth trauma is said to be the future fear of birth. Many women who have a negative experience while giving birth, are apprehensive to do it again.
All women who give birth are vulnerable to experiencing a birth trauma. However, not all will come forward to talk about their birth trauma experience.
Birth traumas often involve the following:
- Forced Induction
- Improper Use of Tools, Such as Forceps or a Vacuum
- Lengthy Labor
- Extremely Brief, Painful Labor
- Lack of Empathy or Compassion from Staff
- Requests Not Met/Feelings of Not Being Heard
- Inadequate Post-Natal Care
- Damage to an Infant
- Feeling a Loss of Dignity/Privacy During Labor
- Loss of Control Over All Events Taking Place
Birth traumas are estimated to affect an approximate 5 to 10 live births per-1,000 within the United States each year, sources say. Countries that are in Central and South America; as well as Asia and Africa are known to encounter higher rates of birth trauma among newborns and infants.
According to Lucile Packard’s Children’s Hospital, certain conditions may put one at a higher risk for encountering birth trauma.
These can include:
- Cephalopelvic Disproportion
- Premature Baby (Before 3 weeks)
- Larger-Than-Average Infant
- Breech Birth
- Long Labor/Difficult Labor
What’s the Difference Between a Birth Trauma and a Birth Injury?
Birth trauma can affect both mother and baby, while a birth injury typically refers to harm incurred by a newborn during or after birth.
While the terms sound similar, they carry slightly different meanings.
Both most commonly take place during birth, or in the delivery room.
Types of birth injuries may range from moderate to severe. Birth injuries can carry both long-term and temporary symptoms for an infant.
No matter what degree of birth injury your child may have sustained, it is important to recognize his/her symptoms right away.
Types of Birth Injury:
Knowing what type of birth injury your child may have can help determine the best way to approach your infant’s treatment options.
The following are common types of birth injury:
- Scalp Swelling (Caput Succedaneum)
- Brain Tissue Swelling (Hydrocephalus)
- Broken Bones
- Severe Bruising
- Oxygen Deprivation
- Bell’s Palsy
- Cerebral Palsy
- Brachial Plexus Injury
- Brain Injuries (Neurological Injuries)
- Erb’s Palsy
- C-Section Injuries
- Epidural Injuries
- Klumpke’s Palsy
- Shoulder Dystocia
- Birth Trauma (Injuries from Delivery)
- Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN)
- Folic Acid Deficiency Anemia
- Horner’s Syndrome
- Uterine Hemorrhage
- Uterine Hyper-Stimulation
- Uterine Infection (Periventricular Leukomalacia)
- Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome
- Hypoxic ischemic Encephalopathy
Fractures can happen as a result of trauma or complications during birth.
Collarbone fractures are said to be the most common form of birth injury, according to Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
A clavicle, or collarbone fracture, is said to be caused by the following:
- Use of certain instruments during labor
- Narrow birth canal causing injury
- Having an infant’s shoulder get caught during birth
- A large infant passing through the birth canal
How do I identify a broken collarbone?
An infant may experience pain as a result of any birth injury. A broken collarbone may be identified by an infant crying out when they are touched or picked up beneath the arms, or shoulders. According to sources, the shoulder that is injured may appear to be in a different position than the other shoulder (higher or lower).
It is important to recognize a birth injury like a broken collarbone as soon as possible. A doctor may perform an exam with X-rays to determine if your infant has experienced this form of trauma.
A large lump may appear at the site of an injury after a few weeks, as it begins to heal.
Caput succedaneum is a type of birth injury caused to an infant’s head. Caput succedaneum is a condition that can cause the front or top of an infant’s scalp to swell. This type of birth injury can be caused by either a prolonged or difficult birth; the use of a vacuum or mechanical device during delivery; and as a result of passing through the uterus or cervix during birth, which may be narrow.
Symptoms an infant may have caput succedaneum as a result of a traumatic birth include:
- Bruising around the scalp
- Swollen areas on an infant’s head
Detecting Caput Succedaneum
A doctor may be able to test for caput succedaneum symptoms early within a woman’s pregnancy. Caput succedaneum can be the result of a compromised amniotic sac, which essentially protects an infant’s head.
Another reason for caput succedaneum during birth is the misuse of extraction tools, such as forceps or a vacuum. Using too much force with these tools during birth can cause result in an injury to a child’s head, which would otherwise have been preventable.
Hydrocephalus (Brain Tissue Swelling)
Hydrocephalus can happen when an infant sustains head trauma during labor. Hydrocephalus can also occur in certain cases of head trauma before birth.
Hydrocephalus is a term that means an excess of water in the head from “hydro” (water) and “cephalus” (head).
According to the National Institute of neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), this fluid is really cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This is an opaque fluid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain. Too much of this fluid can impose painful and possibly dangerous pressure on the brain.
While hydrocephalus can be inherited as a congenital defect, it may also be the result of birth trauma to the head, before or during delivery.
There are two known types of hydrocephalus. They are:
- Non-communicating hydrocephalus
Communicating hydrocephalus means that CSF fluid is still able to flow through the brain’s ventricles, but it is unable to go out, as the exits to those ventricles are essentially blocked.
Non-communicating hydrocephalus suggests that all CSF is prohibited from flowing through the brain’s ventricles.
Hydrocephalus can be treatable with a shunt implant to prevent pooling of CSF. However, shunts can become infected and pose future health problems for children, which can be fatal.
Since hydrocephalus can damage an infant’s neurological components, a child with hydrocephalus may have difficulties developing certain cognitive and/or motor skills.
Do forceps cause brain damage?
Forceps may be responsible for some cases of brain damage and/or bodily harm. In fact, an article written by the Daily Mail in 2010, found that an infant suffered long-term brain damage, which included bleeding on the brain, as a result of extreme force with forceps during his birth.
Due to the questionable circumstances surrounding the use of forceps for births within the United States, many hospitals no longer use forceps to assist in birth.
Jaundice and Birth Injury
Jaundice is often considered to be typical for infant births. However, there are different reasons for an infant having jaundice.
A difficult delivery may make an infant more vulnerable to jaundice after birth, especially if an infant incurs bleeding under the scalp.
Jaundice is a term that describes a surplus of the chemical known as bilirubin. Bilirubin is processed by the liver. However, when a child is in utero, the bilirubin is processed by the mother’s placenta. Following birth, when the child no longer has the shield of a placenta, bilirubin may accumulate in the body, causing the yellowing of skin and eyes.
How Long After Birth Does Jaundice Last?
Jaundice is said to appear within the first few days following birth. It can last for as little as 2 to 4 days, and as long as 2 weeks.
It is imperative to monitor your child closely if they have jaundice, because if their bilirubin levels continue to get higher, there may be something more serious to consider.
While some forms of newborn jaundice may be normal, rising bilirubin levels may also be an indication that your baby has suffered a severe form of trauma during birth. It can also mean that their liver, or other body parts, are desperately trying to compensate for a variety of plausible factors.
How can a birth injury relate to jaundice?
A daunting delivery can sometimes lead to a birth injury involving bleeding beneath the scalp. This type of jaundice is not necessarily related to a child’s liver. This form of jaundice is generally caused as a consequence of a difficult birth. Cephalohematoma is a condition known to be a hemorrhaging of blood beneath the skull. This condition can arise from a prolonged birth, or birth’s that require the use of instruments.
If bilirubin amounts continue to rise in a child after birth, it may also lead to a condition known as kernicterus.
Kernicterus can happen if too much bilirubin continues to collect in an infant’s blood stream. If too much bilirubin builds up, it can leave the blood stream and enter the brain. If this chemical begins to accumulate within the brain, it can lead to some serious complications, such as damage to a child’s auditory system, and even perhaps brain damage.
While a broken clavicle, or collarbone, is considered to be the most common type of birth injury involving a fracture, other bones may be broken during birth as well. Many times these types of broken bones can be prevented, and are the result of an error performed by a doctor in the delivery room, or other medical staff.
Broken bones can often be an indication that an infant endured some form of trauma during the birthing process.
How to detect if your infant has broken bones
Babies have sensitive bones. That’s no secret. But detecting whether or not your child has broken a bone as a result of a birth injury can be tricky, because they are unable to communicate their pain.
Some signs that your child may be suffering from a broken bone as a result of birth injury include:
- Crying out with pain/discomfort
- A swollen or tender site somewhere on their body (i.e. arms, legs)
- Inability to move a limb, or effected area
- Trouble resting on one side of the body/general problem sleeping due to pain
Bruising After Birth
Bruising may occur during birth for different reasons.
Bruising can often result when a baby passes through the birth canal. A child may also incur bruising from being obstructed by a mother’s pelvis and/or other body parts while exiting the womb.
While some forms of bruising at birth may be common, extreme bruising may be due to the trauma and stress of a difficult delivery and/or the use of tools. In some cases, if a doctor uses forceps with a lot of force, this can leave marks on a child’s head. In addition, sometimes the use of a vacuum to remove the infant during birth can also cause severe bruising on the scalp.
Newborn Facial Bruising
Sometimes difficult birth may involve the use of mechanical tools to assist with delivery. According to the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, the use of tools such as forceps during deliver, can cause newborn facial bruising.
In very rare cases of medical malpractice, a doctor or medical staff may drop an infant. This may not only cause bruising, but broken bones and other injuries as well.
Hematoma on a newborn’s head
The lack of oxygen during birth is called anoxia. Another form of oxygen deprivation newborns can experience during birth is called hypoxia.
The effects of oxygen deprivation on a newborn can range from mild to severe. Oxygen deprivation can happen because the umbilical cord becomes wrapped around a baby’s neck, or if an infant is separated from the placenta prematurely.
In some cases, oxygen deprivation can occur if a baby does not begin to breathe independently after birth.
Two types of oxygen deprivation include:
Hypoxia: Hypoxia describes low levels of oxygen. Hypoxia is a slightly less severe form of oxygen-related birth trauma. Unlike anoxia, which is used to describe total oxygen deprivation, hypoxia refers to low levels of oxygen in a baby’s circulatory system.
Hypoxia can happen in infants because they are born prematurely, and their lungs are not yet developed enough to supply adequate oxygen.
Anoxia: Anoxia describes the complete absence of oxygen. While the term anoxia can mean many things, when referring to a birth injury, anoxia often means a lack of oxygen within the brain. This is often called cerebral anoxia, to be more specific.
Effects of Oxygen Deprivation:
The effects of oxygen deprivation often depend on the length a baby goes without oxygen, or is oxygen deprived.
According to medical sources, anoxia can cause a variety of complications, including:
- Impaired vision/blindness
- Learning disabilities/cognitive impairments
- Hearing difficulties
- Brain damage
- Cerebral palsy
Bell’s palsy is a temporary condition that causes the paralysis of certain muscles in the face.
Bell’s palsy in infants is often caused as a result of damage to the 7th cranial nerve, which controls certain facial responses.
Signs of Bell’s palsy often surface within the final trimester of pregnancy, sources say.
In infants, Bell’s palsy often affects the lower part of the face, surrounding the mouth area.
Symptoms of a Bell’s palsy birth injury can include:
No movement in the chin/mouth area
An infant’s face may seem uneven when crying
The side that is affected may not allow the eye to close
A doctor will often monitor a child for a period of time to ensure that the paralysis disappears on its own. However, if a newborn appears to suffer from a more permanent form of paralysis, therapy may be needed.
Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury
Cerebral Palsy is one of the most common birth injuries known to occur as a result of brain damage stemming from medical negligence or malpractice.
A child may suffer from either:
- Spastic Cerebral Palsy (Characterized by increased muscle tone)
- Non-Spastic Cerebral Palsy (Characterized by symptoms of immobility)
Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
Cerebral palsy is a condition that affects the brain. It is possible for cerebral palsy to cause either a paresis (weakened) condition, or complete paralysis.
Forms of cerebral palsy may vary from mild, moderate to severe.
Spastic Cerebral Palsy
Spastic Cerebral Palsy may cause a child’s limbs to because stiff, rigid or difficult to bend. [ii]
It is considered to be the most common form of cerebral palsy, accounting for more than three-fourths of all cerebral palsy birth injuries.
It can include long-lasting conditions, such as: scoliosis, hip displacement and other limb deformities, that can possibly make every-day activities difficult for a child in the future.
Spastic cerebral palsy is typically associated with a birth injury caused within the brain’s pyramidal tract. The pyramidal tract is said to be made of two main nerve groups. These bundles of nerves are responsible for our voluntary movements. If the pyramidal tract is damaged during birth, a child’s muscle control could be compromised for life, making it difficult for them to control their movements.
In many cases of spastic cerebral palsy, limbs like arms, legs, the mouth and tongue are affected. This can make eating, drinking, breathing, speaking and even swallowing difficult for a child.
Non-Spastic Cerebral Palsy
Non-Spastic Cerebral Palsy usually causes a child to perform repetitive movements, often in an almost rhythmic fashion.
This type of birth injury is often caused from damage done to outside of the pyramidal tract.
Non-spastic cerebral palsy is also considered to be less common, comprising an estimated 20-percent of cerebral palsy cases related to birth injuries.
Non-spastic cerebral palsy is also known as extrapyramidal cerebral palsy.
***There are two types of Non-Spastic Cerebral Palsy. They are: Ataxic and Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy.
Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
- Athetoid cerebral palsy affects an infant’s muscle structure.
- Athetoid cerebral palsy may cause a child to have involuntary movements, especially within their arms and legs.
- It can cause issues with eating, speech, drooling and drinking. It may also cause muscular abnormalities in the face, which can cause a child to have difficulty controlling their facial expressions.
Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy
- Dyskinetic cerebral palsy can cause muscles to become rigid, or immobile and not moving. It can also cause involuntary movements and jerking.
- This typically happens in the neck, arms, hands, face and feet. Some may even experience uncontrollable movements in the torso. This can cause a child or infant to have an arched posture.
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
- Ataxic Cerebral Palsy is said to be the least common form of cerebral palsy suffered by infants as a result of a birth injury. [iii]
- According to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Ataxic Cerebral Palsy can be characterized by a general clumsiness and loss of control over one’s movements.
- An infant with ataxic cerebral palsy may make movements with their arms or legs, which appear to be sudden, abrupt and twitchy.
- Ataxia is said to affect an infant’s cerebellum. The cerebellum is responsible for our voluntary movements.
- Aside from affecting the limbs, ataxia may also cause a child to have trouble swallowing and difficulty controlling eye movement, as well. Ataxia is also said to affect a child’s speech.
Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is often caused by damage to an infant’s brain, either during the gestation period, or during birth.
Cerebral palsy is most commonly caused by the following:
- Events during birth that rupture brain cells, or cause brain damage
- Trauma during birth that affects the brain
- Poor myelin presence. Myelin acts as an outside shield for nerves that also facilitates communication between the brain and different nerve cells. (Prenatal Myelination)
- Genetic/environmental factors can impact cell development while a child is still in the gestation stage. This can affect brain function after birth. (Prenatal disruption of the migration of brain cells)
Brachial Plexus Injury
The brachial plexus is a system of nerves that facilitates communication between the spinal cord and the hands, fingers and arms. A prominent sign that your newborn has experienced a brachial plexus injury is an inability to move or rotate one or both shoulders.
A brachial plexus injury can be cause by an infant becoming stuck with their shoulder on a mother’s pelvis during birth. This type of brachial plexus injury can happen because of a doctor using excessive force to remove the baby.
A brachial plexus injury can often happen if an infant experiences a broken collarbone, or clavicle. According to sources, 1-in-11 birth injuries that involve a fractured collarbone, also cause a brachial plexus injury.
Options to recovering with an obstetric brachial plexus injury:
Many times, damage to the brachial plexus relating to a birth injury will heal on its own. However, if the brachial plexus injury is extensive, surgery may need to be done in order to correct this.
Head Trauma During Birth
Birth injuries involving an infant’s head are quite common. Head trauma during birth or pregnancy can result in a number of conditions for a child. Birth injuries that involve head trauma are often the result of a difficult birth, which typically require the use of mechanical objects, such as a vacuum or forceps. An infant that is breeched at birth may also experience an injury to the head. These tools have been known to cause head injuries to infants during delivery as well.
Different head injuries resulting from a birth injury can include:
- Caput succedaneum
- Oxygen deprivation (HIE)
- Swelling of the brain
Birth Injuries from C-Sections
C-Sections may be performed for a variety of reasons during birth.
Some causes for performing a C-Section include: a breeched baby; an active hepatitis problem; a ruptured uterus; difficulty with a child’s umbilical cord; twin births; or if a mother suffers from a condition known as preeclampsia (high blood-pressure), or diabetes.
While some C-sections result in injuries that may be justified, often injuries from C-sections can be prevented.
Fetal lacerations can happen because of inappropriate actions taken by medical providers and staff. They can range from mild to severe.
Many cases of fetal lacerations happen about an infant’s head, face and ears, reports the Patient Safety Authority.
Uterine Infections (Periventricular Leukomalacia)
What is Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL)? What causes an infant to suffer from Periventricular leukomalacia?
Periventricular is a term that refers to the white matter in the brain. White matter in the brain can help transmit signals between cells that comprise the brain’s gray matter. Damage to this area of the brain can cause cell death, and even lead to parts of the brain decomposing. This decomposition can lead to cavities, known as lateral ventricles. These lateral ventricles can fill with fluid. This is known as leukomalacia.
According to the site Cerebral Palsy, an estimated 60 to 100-percent of babies diagnosed with periventricular leukomalacia are further diagnosed with the condition cerebral palsy.
The site also notes that more than three-fourths of premature infant deaths were related to periventricular leukomalacia, following postmortem studies.
What Causes Periventricular Leukomalacia in Infants?
There multiple causes for periventricular leukomalacia.
One common reason for this has been linked to an intrauterine infection. This type of infection can cause harmful bacteria to infect the vital amniotic fluid, which surrounds the fetus during gestation.
If a uterine infection is present, a newborn may be more likely to suffer from periventricular leukomalacia.
Periventricular leukomalacia is also common in premature births.
Other signs of periventricular leukomalacia can include:
Narcotic use during pregnancy
Placental vascular anastomoses
Antepartum hemorrhage (bleeding during pregnancy)
Severe bacterial infections at the time of gestation, or during birth
Funisitis, or swelling of umbilical cord tissue
How do I file a birth injury settlement?
Filing for a birth injury settlement doesn’t have to be difficult. The Rappaport Law Firm has broken down the process of filing for a birth injury settlement into the four following steps:
1. Contact Rappaport Law to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
2. We will gather all the relevant medical records from the pregnancy, labor, delivery, and post-delivery timeframes.
3. Then we will work with qualified medical experts (in such fields as obstetrics, pediatrics, neuroradiology, neonatology, fetal monitoring, nursing, and hospital administration) to determine if your case has merit.
4. Then we will initiate the required proceedings with the appropriate board of medicine. Then, if the healthcare providers fail to justly compensate our clients, we proceed to litigation by filing a civil case in court. We conduct thorough discovery, including use of the deposition process and subpoena power, to gather all the facts of the case. We may need to file motions in court. If the case does not settle, we then proceed to a jury trial to obtain a monetary damages award for our clients.
At Rappaport Law, we labor solidly in safeguarding families the economic compensation they deserve. We are sympathetic, thoughtful, and know of the delicateness of your position in handling the effects of medical negligence on your family.
If you are curious that you may well have a birth injury medical malpractice claim, please contact Rappaport Law right
- Twin to twin transfusion syndrome
- Uterine rupture
- Shoulder Dystocia
- Newborn jaundice
- Uterine hyper-stimulation
- Erb’s Palsy
- Cesarean section injuries
- Cerebral Palsy Birth Asphyxia
- Klumpke’s Palsy
- Forceps injuries
- Forceps injuries
- Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy
- Uterine Hemorrhage
- Prolapsed umbilical cord
- Uterine Hemorrhage