Understanding birth injuries and implications

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

Two of the most common birth injuries are Erb’s palsy and cerebral palsy. New York parents may be aware that these can result from complications that occur as a child is born. There may be a concern about the actions of medical staff during child birth when such conditions are diagnosed.

Cerebral palsy actually refers to a variety of disorders that can impact the brain function and physical activity of a baby. Commonly believed to be a result of poor oxygen supply during birth, CP can also occur due to a brain injury that takes place before labor and delivery. Tt can also occur at some point after a baby is born as well. A baby born very prematurely may have a high risk of CP. Head trauma after delivery can also cause brain injury and CP. Some prescription medications used by a mother during the pregnancy can result in CP. An obstetrician’s failure to ensure a proper oxygen supply in a timely manner through Caesarean section or other means could facilitate a CP-causing brain injury as well.

Erb’s palsy, also known as brachial palsy, is rare, occurring in less than 1 percent of deliveries. The condition results from injury to a group of nerves known as the brachial plexus. These nerves travel between the spinal cord and the hands, and an injury can take place when excessive pressure is placed on the neck, shoulder, or head of a baby. Erb’s palsy is most common with babies of above average weight when vacuum or forceps are needed to facilitate delivery. A baby affected by the condition may lose movement or sensation in the affected arm and hand. Such injuries are often attributed to physician decisions.

A family faced with a diagnosis of either condition may wonder how a doctor’s decisions may have contributed to the outcome. Amedical malpractice lawyer can review the facts to help in understanding whether or not further action is warranted.

Source: Findlaw, “Birth Injuries: Cerebral Palsy and Erbs Palsy“, September 25, 2014

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