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Nearly four million babies are born in the United States each year. Perhaps you're an expecting parent and you've spent months preparing for your new arrival.
You spent time preparing the nursery, selecting a car seat and even found the perfect name. The birth of your child, however, could turn from joy and hope to tragedy and sorrow if something goes wrong and your child suffers from a birth injury.
On a national level, approximately three incidents of birth injuries occur every hour, equating to more than 2,300 per month, according to rightdiagnosis.com.
A birth injury can occur during labor and delivery or immediately following delivery and is different from a birth defect.
Birthinjuryguide.org defines a birth injury as a "health problem that an infant is born with that is, in most cases, completely preventable." Several common birth injuries include:
- Brachial plexus also called brachial plexus palsy is nerve damage at the base of the neck to the upper arms from too much force with forceps or other instruments to assist in the birthing process. "Permanent brachial plexus birth injuries are nearly always preventable," according to the United Brachial Plexus Network.
- During labor and delivery, failure to recognize distress of the baby can lead to oxygen deprivation or hypoxia. Oxygen deprivation can also be caused by abnormalities with the umbilical cord or having the cord wrap around the baby's neck. This lack of oxygen can result in seizures, cerebral palsy or other permanent brain trauma that can affect the growth and cognitive development of your child.
- Fractures of the collar bone or femur
Failure to diagnose and treat infection or internal injuries resulting from birth can result in additional injuries. The long-term complications of traumatic birth injuries can mean lifelong disabilities, treatment, therapy and expensive medical equipment.
Such an impact can leave new parents asking difficult questions. Why did this happen? Could the injury have been prevented? Will my child recover? Now what do we do to help care for our child?
Although the answer to those questions varies, one thing remains constant — the result of a birth injury can be devastating for families. Consulting medical specialists as quickly as possible can lessen the long-term consequences of a birth injury.
Resources including birth trauma support groups can help your family cope with the lifelong emotional and financial affects.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the lifetime costs of caring for a child with cerebral palsy can reach $1 million and costs for caring for a child who experienced hearing or vision loss can reach $500,000 dollars over his or her lifetime.
In the event of a birth injury, providing the best care and quality of life for your child is of the most importance. Anyone who has experienced a birth trauma that has resulted in a brain or other injury because of negligence has the right to seek compensation to cover the long-term costs of caring for your child.