It is hard to imagine that with the state of modern medicine that a child may still be at risk of birth injuries. But the fact is, an estimated 7 out 1,000 live births result is some type of birth injury. This includes injuries that are relatively minor and resolve on their own with no medical intervention, as well as those that are permanent and severe enough to be debilitating, and which cannot be repaired.
Among the former are some cases of brachial plexus injury, also called Erb’s Palsy, which may occur for a variety of reasons, one of which is obstetric. The brachial plexus is a group of nerves that conducts signals to the spinal cord to control shoulder, arm and hand movement. In an obstetric trauma, the newborn may experience injury to the brachial plexus during a difficult birth independent of any medical error, but it may also be due to excessive pressure brought on the shoulder, where the brachial plexus is located, or the incorrect use of birthing instruments. When the injury is minor, the newborn may exhibit some difficulty in moving the affected arm but the nerve damage is repaired within three months of the birth. In other cases, the damage is too severe for natural resolution, and results in permanent disability. In severe cases, the affected arm develops asymmetrically and has limited movement.
When birth injury is to the brain, one of the numerous possible results is cerebral palsy. This is a neuromuscular disorder wherein the affected individual is unable to control certain movements, and may also affect depth perception and cognition, depending on the extent and location of the injury. While the cause is cerebral palsy is largely unknown, there are instances when medical error is clearly indicated such as the failure to respond appropriately to fetal distress during difficult labor, in which case the resulting physical disability can be presumed to be due to physician negligence.
If your child suffered from birth injury due to medical error or negligence, the effects can be significant and long-term for both the injured child and the family.