Mistakes that Lead to Birth and Maternal Injuries

July 6, 2017 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Mistakes that Lead to Birth and Maternal Injuries

Common Injuries Before, During, and After Birth

Among the nations of the world, the United States has a relatively low infant mortality rate [1]. This is because there is an intense focus on family health and prenatal care; and with the advent of modern technology and genetic testing, both pregnancy and the potential dangers associated with such can be detected during its early stages. Although this increase in prenatal care and testing is generally beneficial to expecting parents, the level of physician intervention in pregnancy can also lead to serious maternal and birth injuries.

Pregnancy Do's and Don'ts

Of those injuries that occur in utero, the most common causes are smoking, drinking or taking recreational drugs, maternal medical conditions such as diabetes, taking certain medications during birth, including certain antidepressants, genetic defects and family history, and a pregnancy after the age of 34. The United States Department of Health and Human Services puts out a bulletin of pregnancy do's and don'ts for pregnant women as a means of preventing avoidable birth injuries and defects due to lack of prenatal care. It is recommended that pregnant women do the following:

  • See a doctor regularly;
  • Take sufficient folic acid and iron supplements;
  • Eat healthy foods;
  • Drink extra water;
  • Keep moving with light physical activities;
  • Don't be afraid to gain healthy weight;
  • Wash hands;
  • Get sufficient sleep; and
  • Get a flu shot.

It is further recommended that pregnant women do not do the following:

  • Smoke;
  • Expose themselves to toxic cleaning substances, bug spray, and paint;
  • Drink alcohol;
  • Use illegal drugs;
  • Clean a cat's litter box;
  • Eat certain seafood;
  • Take hot baths, and
  • Use certain scented products.

It can seem like a lot of regulations, but following such can greatly reduce your chance of exposing your child to toxins that could cause him or her harm. From that point forward, the burden will be on your doctor to ensure that he or she monitors your child for genetic defects and helps deliver a healthy baby.

Common Birth Injuries During Pregnancy

There is a difference between unpreventable genetic disorders that manifest at birth and birth defects caused by external factors, such as medications and physician errors. There is also a difference between birth injuries that occur during pregnancy and those that occur during the actual delivery process. The most common injuries and defects that occur during pregnancy include fetal alcohol syndrome and brain development injuries due to infection or lack of oxygen [2]. Of those injuries that occur in utero, the following are the most common causes:

  • Smoking, drinking or taking recreational drugs;
  • Maternal medical conditions such as diabetes;
  • Taking certain medications during birth, including certain antidepressants;
  • Genetic defects and family history;
  • and a pregnancy after the age of 34.

Common Birth Injuries During Birthing Process

Some of the most severe birth injuries actually occur during the birth process when the child is otherwise healthy [3]. The most common birth injuries are caused by:

  • Lack of oxygen, such as umbilical cord compression and cutting the cord too soon;
  • Improper use of birth tools, which can cause physical and developmental damage;
  • Failure to perform a timely C-section, which can result in fatalities; and
  • Failure to diagnose and treat fetal infections.

Because children develop at different rates and every child has a different genetic makeup, how a particular drug or injury will manifest in your child cannot always be accurately predicted, nor can many injuries be fully diagnosed until the child is a few years old.

Common Pre-Birth Maternal Injuries

Unfortunately, injuries to the mother during the pregnancy, and during the birth process, can endanger both mother and child. Again, these are broken into two categories, injuries that occur during pregnancy and injuries that occur during delivery.

Common Maternal Injuries During Pregnancy

Among the most common illnesses and injuries that occur during pregnancy, and can cause severe illness or even death if not diagnosed and treated, include:
  • Anemia (blood loss)
  • Infections
  • Diabetes
  • Preeclampsia
  • Placental abruption
  • Prolapsed umbilical cord

However, a rarer defect that should be immediately diagnosed and treated is known as Rh incompatibility, which is most commonly understood as whether the mother's blood type is positive or negative [4].

If the mother has O+ blood and the child has O- blood, and the child's blood infects the mother's during the delivery process, the mother's body will treat the positive(+) blood as a disease and form antibodies against it. In a second or third pregnancy, those antibodies will "attack" a child in utero with a positive blood type, which may be fatal to the child. There is treatment for Rh incompatibility, but if your doctor does not ask the right questions and provide you with the right treatment, this can lead to a serious case of medical malpractice.

Common Maternal Delivery Injuries

Although many common maternal delivery injuries stem from undiagnosed illnesses during pregnancy—such as pre-eclampsia, diabetes, and infection—physician negligence during delivery can have serious consequences for both mom and baby.

These include failure to prevent and control major hemorrhaging resulting in the need for an emergency hysterectomy, failure to perform a timely c-section, and injuries to the mother caused by a child in a “breech” position. Often, these injuries may result in a lack of future fertility, or could even put the mother into a coma; this is especially true with undiagnosed diabetes and pre-eclampsia, which can cause severe damage to one's organs due to high blood pressure. Although prenatal diabetes can often be controlled with diet and medication, the only cure for pre-eclampsia is delivery, no matter what the stage of pregnancy. If this is not diagnosed and treated, it can be fatal to both mother and child. Failing to diagnose something like pre-eclampsia can be considered medical negligence.  Mistakes that Lead to Birth and Maternal Injuries

Cost of Birth Injuries

Because many birth defects result from lack of oxygen to the brain during delivery, brain damage in a newborn child can have a lifetime of physical, cognitive, and social ramifications. Learning disabilities and the need for special medication and care will most likely persist throughout a child's lifetime, making it difficult to predict how to financially prepare for your child's future.

It is especially difficult to predict your child's needs early in life, as each injury will affect a child differently and may resolve or worsen throughout childhood. Accordingly, if your child has been injured due to physician error either during the birth process or your pregnancy, you should not settle with the physician's insurance company until you fully understand how the injury will affect your child's development and the needs they will have over their lifetime.

Cost of Raising a Child with Special Needs after Birth Injury

Raising a child from birth to age 18 costs approximately $240,000 in the US [5]. For a child with special needs child after a birth injury, those expenses can increase by 400%. This increase in cost, in addition to the everyday costs of raising a child without any special issues, can devastate a family financially. This is why seeking compensation is so important. Of course, the costs of raising a child with special needs varies quite a bit depending on the disability and severity, however it will always cost more than raising a child without any special needs. For example, raising a child with an intellectual disability can cost an $2.3 million more over their lifetime. Even parent's who have good healthcare coverage, will face bills that aren't covered, costs of home and lifestyle modifications, and unexpected expenses on a day to day basis. This can cause many people to resort to taking out second mortgages, home equity loans, credit cards, and depleting their retirement funds in order to cover the cost. This is why we can't tress enough the importance of seeking financial compensation right away, before the bills mount and before the statute of limitation on your case runs out.

Long-term Care for Children with Birth Injuries

Some children with severe birth defects may end up having to live at home with their parents for the rest of their lives. And with modern medications and treatments, this can mean they will live a normal lifespan, well into their 70s and 80s. This can add up to big spending for the caretakers. Of course, some government aid is available, but it is never enough to cover all the expenses and unexpected costs one will face raising a child with a birth injury long term. Hiring a lawyer who specializes in birth injury cases will provide you with help in determining how much it might cost you in the long-term. This information will be supported with evidence and used in the case.

Contact a Florida Birth Defect Lawyer Immediately

Whether you recently delivered a child and were told he or she is suffering from a birth injury, are pregnant and realize your physician gave you medication that may cause a birth defect, or have an older child and believe he may be suffering from birth-related cognitive dysfunction, it is essential that you contact a Florida medical malpractice attorney. There are certain medications that are known to cause defects and it is important to have a lawyer on your side who understands the nature of birth injury negligence. It is even more important to ensure you call an attorney who has the experts you need to determine the financial cost of your child's injury and what they will need to live a full, healthy life. The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA can help fight for your rights as a parent. They are your premier personal injury and birth defect lawyers in the greater Tampa Bay area. Call them today at 727-451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 727-451-6900 https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/birth-injury-attorneys/ Sources: [1] www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html [2] www.healthline.com/health/fetal-alcohol-syndrome [3] www.parents.com/pregnancy/giving-birth/labor-and-delivery/labor-childbirth-phases/ [4] www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/rh [5] www.time.com/money/4629700/child-raising-cost-department-of-agriculture-report/


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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