Birth injuries are any type of harm to a baby that occurs during or near the time of birth. The most common birth injuries involve birth asphyxia (hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy), contracting infections, or long-term disabilities like cerebral palsy (CP). Because these diagnoses are very complex and can often be related to other health issues, understanding what happened to a child can be a very daunting task.
If a parent suspects that their child has a birth injury, it may be a good idea to speak to an attorney who specifically practices in birth injury. Experienced birth injury attorneys are well-versed in interpreting medical records and can help decipher the events at birth to determine whether the injury was due to medical malpractice.
Birth injuries are not always immediately obvious. Sometimes a child might show signs of a brain injury soon after birth (if they have seizures, or aren’t breathing at birth, for example). In other cases, these injuries show up as developmental delays as a child does not roll over, crawl, walk or talk at the expected times. This may also manifest itself as cerebral palsy, other motor difficulties, or an early preference for one hand over another. It can also manifest itself in cognitive, intellectual, learning or developmental disabilities once the child has begun to grow further. When a birth injury is suspected, it is very important to speak to medical professionals as soon as possible – the sooner a diagnosis can be confirmed, the sooner intensive therapy can start. The sooner intensive therapy starts, the likelier it is that the child will have better outcomes.
Treating HIE in Wisconsin
There are many potential causes of HIE, including high-risk pregnancy conditions, labor and delivery issues, and medical mistakes. Usually, HIE can be prevented through careful fetal monitoring and timely intervention in response to complications. However, medical professionals may miss opportunities to prevent HIE, or perform negligent actions that cause HIE.
If a baby is diagnosed with HIE, it is critical that doctors administer therapeutic hypothermia very shortly after birth/the oxygen-depriving incident. This treatment can minimize the extent of permanent brain damage, and reduces the risk of resultant disabilities such as cerebral palsy.
Wisconsin cooling facilities
There are numerous hospitals in Wisconsin that provide intensive care to critically ill children. The following facilities provide therapeutic hypothermia (brain cooling) as a treatment for HIE:
Wisconsin Universities and Research Centers
Wisconsin is home to numerous medical research programs and organizations, including the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health’s Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research, the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the Aurora Research Institute,the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Neonatology Division and the Wisconsin Network for Health Research (WiNHR), which pulls together thousands of researchers conducting clinical research in such diverse areas as cancer care, cardiology, neurosciences and women’s health.
Birth Injury Causes
Often, the cause of a birth injury can be traced back to specific events during pregnancy, labor and delivery. Many actions (or, in some cases, inaction) on the part of the hospital staff can greatly increase the risk for a birth injury. If a child has developmental delays, motor disabilities, or other neurological abnormalities not associated with genetics, it can be worth having a birth injury attorney review your medical records and help you understand what happened to your child. If they find that medical malpractice did occur, you may choose to file a suit to provide for your child’s future care.
Events associated with birth injuries (as they relate to medical malpractice) include:
Failure to prevent, control, diagnose or timely treat underlying maternal health conditions, such as:
- Diabetes or gestational diabetes
- Preeclampsia and/or high blood pressure
- Prior history of birth complications (premature birth, intrauterine growth restriction, macrosomia, C-section etc.)
- Infections (including asymptomatic infections) such as Group B Strep, a UTI or bacterial vaginosis, a sexually transmitted infection, or chorioamnionitis/villitis
- Placenta previa
Failure to prevent, control, diagnose or timely treat underlying fetal health conditions, such as:
- Umbilical cord abnormalities (cord is too long, too short, wrapped around the baby’s neck, or knotted) or umbilical cord prolapse/compression
- The baby’s growth is abnormal; the baby is too large (macrosomia) or too small (intrauterine growth restriction)
Failure to prevent, control, diagnose or timely treat emergencies/complications in labor, such as:
- Mother’s water breaks early (premature rupture of membranes, or PROM)
- Premature birth
- Placental abruption
- Uterine rupture
- Post-term pregnancy
- Stalled labor
- Waiting too long for an emergency C-section
- Shoulder dystocia (baby gets stuck in the birth canal)
- Baby is head-first or face-first
- Use of forceps or ventouse (vacuum extractor)
- Baby’s heart rate drops during labor
- Uterine hyperstimulation from Pitocin or Cytotec
Failure to prevent, control, diagnose or timely treat infant health issues during or after birth, such as:
- Baby is born blue, pale, limp or unresponsive
- Seizures in the baby after birth
- Infection after birth (such as encephalitis, meningitis, sepsis, or pneumonia)
- Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (baby breathed in stool before birth)
- Neonatal Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar in the baby)
- The baby can’t breathe or didn’t cry after birth
- Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes) and Kernicterus
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Fetal stroke
- Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL)
- Hydrocephalus (water on the brain)
- Brain bleeds
Legal help for children in Wisconsin
Birth injury cases are complex, both medically and legally. For the best case outcome for your child, it’s critical to find an attorney and a law firm that focus specifically on birth injury cases. At ABC Law Centers (Reiter & Walsh, P.C.), our attorneys have focused their entire careers on this area of law, and they consistently secure multi-million dollar settlements for our clients.
Contact our birth injury attorneys and legal nurses in any of the following ways with any questions you may have. We do not charge any fees for our legal processes unless we win!
Related Reading and Resources
Cooling centers found via University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Resuscitation Science.