Doctors warn that home births increase the risk of birth injuries in babies, such as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) & cerebral palsy.

Award-Winning Birth Injury Lawyers Helping Children Affected by Birth Injuries such as Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) & Cerebral Palsy | Serving Michigan, Ohio, Washington, D.C. & All 50 States

With the increasing popularity of home births, experts are trying to raise awareness of the dangers of these deliveries.  Doctors say that the large risks of giving birth at home greatly outweigh the small benefits.  The delay in getting to a hospital if something goes wrong during labor and delivery means there is a high risk of home-birthed babies being disabled for life.  One major risk of having a home birth is oxygen deprivation in the baby, which can cause hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, developmental delays and seizure disorders.

An Oxford University study found that babies born to first-time mothers who give birth at home are almost 3 times more likely to suffer a major complication or die.  Complications include fractures and nerve damage to the baby’s shoulder (which can cause Erb’s palsy), meconium aspiration and brain injury.  When a child has brain damage, she can have lifelong motor and intellectual problems, such as cerebral palsy and developmental delays.  Brain injuries in newborn babies often cause the baby to have seizures soon after birth, which can be a lifelong problem.


birth injury lawyers & cerebral palsy attorneysThe award-winning birth injury lawyers at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers have helped hundreds of children affected by hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy and cerebral palsy. Michigan attorney Jesse Reiter, president of ABC Law Centers, has been focusing solely on birth injury cases for over 28 years, and most of his cases involve hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and cerebral palsy.  Partners Jesse Reiter and Rebecca Walsh are currently recognized as two of the best medical malpractice lawyers in America by U.S. News and World Report 2015, which also recognized ABC Law Centers as one of the best medical malpractice law firms in the nation.  The attorneys at ABC Law Centers have won numerous awards for their advocacy of children and are members of the Birth Trauma Litigation Group (BTLG) and the Michigan Association for Justice (MAJ).  In fact, Jesse is one of only 2 attorneys in Michigan to have been elected Chair of the BTLG.

If your child experienced a birth injury such as HIE, seizures, cerebral palsy or any other long-term condition, contact Reiter & Walsh today at 888-419-2229.  Our award-winning attorneys are available 24/7 to speak with you.


Giving birth at home is incredibly risky because if something goes wrong, such as the umbilical cord being wrapped around the baby’s neck (nuchal cord), placental abruption or uterine (womb) rupture, the baby cannot be quickly delivered by an emergency C-section.  These conditions can cause the baby to be partially or completely cut off from her supply of oxygen-rich blood, which is called birth asphyxia.  If a baby is not quickly delivered when birth asphyxia occurs, she can suffer permanent brain damage.

In a hospital, it is the standard of care to closely monitor the baby’s heart rate during labor and delivery.  If the baby starts to experience a lack of oxygen to her brain, this will be reflected in the fetal heart tracings on the heart monitor.  When the heart tracings are nonreassuring, the doctor can quickly deliver the baby by an emergency C-section in order to prevent brain damage and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) caused by birth asphyxia.  In a home setting, if the baby starts to experience birth asphyxia, valuable time is wasted transporting the mother and baby to a hospital where a C-section can be performed and the baby can receive critical medical attention, if needed.  It is imperative that emergency interventions, such as delivery and resuscitation, not be delayed.  Most babies are born with no serious complications.  But in the event that a complication does arise, it is crucial that the complication be medically managed right away to prevent the baby from having permanent disabilities such as cerebral palsy.  Indeed, medical experts say that labor and delivery is a time of high risk and that home births expose babies to an unreasonable risk of potentially lifelong disabilities for benefits that are comparatively small.

Having the capacity to perform an emergency C-section delivery is of such importance that it is the standard of care for all facilities that hold themselves out as labor and delivery units to have adequate staff and equipment to be able to perform a prompt C-section when the baby has a nonreassuring heart tracing or the mother is experiencing a risky complication.


When a baby experiences birth asphyxia, it means that very important brain cells are not receiving adequate oxygenation.  This often results in a form of neonatal encephalopathy called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).  When premature babies experience birth asphyxia, they often develop periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), although term babies can also have PVL.  HIE and PVL can cause neonatal seizures, lifelong seizure disorders, cerebral palsy, motor disorders, hydrocephalus, developmental delays and intellectual disabilities.  These conditions are called birth injuries.

Dangerous conditions that usually require an emergency C-section delivery to avoid birth asphyxia, HIE and PVL include the following:


Erb’s palsy is another type of birth injury that can occur when a medical professional doesn’t have the capacity or desire to perform a prompt C-section delivery and then pulls too hard on the baby’s head when the shoulder is stuck on the mother’s pelvis (shoulder dystocia).  This is usually an attempt at a quick vaginal delivery.  The excessive force on the baby’s head can cause nerves in the shoulder area, called the brachial plexus nerves, to be severely stretched and torn, which can cause the baby’s arm to be partially or almost completely paralyzed.  This arm paralysis is a condition known as Erb’s palsy, which can cause a child’s arm to hang limply at her side for the rest of her life.

Shoulder dystocia also places a baby at risk of experiencing birth asphyxia due to prolonged labor as well as umbilical cord problems.  When a baby’s shoulder is stuck on the pelvic bone, she is at risk of having her umbilical cord compressed, which can cause her to be severely deprived of oxygen.  If the baby cannot be quickly delivered when umbilical cord compression occurs, she can develop hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), seizures and cerebral palsy.


Being at a facility that has skilled staff and adequate equipment to perform a C-section delivery when needed is very important.  Just because most women experience no serious complications during labor and delivery does not mean a mother should risk delivering her baby in a location where an emergency C-section cannot take place.  The risk of a baby experiencing a birth injury is small, but in the rare event that a major complication occurs during birth, the effect of having inadequate medical intervention could be devastating to the baby.

Home births and water births are desired by many women.  Numerous hospitals throughout the country offer birth areas that mimic a home setting.  Mothers can have water births and relaxing therapies such as hypnobirthing and foot massages in a home-like atmosphere.  The benefit of having a “home birth” at a medical facility is that there is a medical team that can closely monitor the baby’s heart rate and quickly deliver the baby by C-section if needed.  As with any medical procedure, including medication administration, the risks, benefits and alternatives must be thoroughly explained to the mother.


Of course, giving birth at a medical facility is only advantageous if the facility follows standards of care, which includes having the ability to perform an emergency C-section delivery and having staff that can properly interpret fetal heart rate tracings.

Listed below are some questions expecting parents can ask a potential obstetrician to help ensure a safe labor and delivery.

Questions to Ask Potential Obstetricians

  1. Will you be continuously monitoring my baby’s heart rate as soon as I’m admitted to the labor and delivery unit?
  2. How many deliveries have you performed?
  3. Will someone skilled in fetal heart rate interpretation be present throughout my labor and delivery?
  4. If my baby shows signs of distress and I cannot quickly deliver her, do you and the hospital have the ability to quickly deliver her by emergency C-section?  During labor and delivery, will I be in or next to a room where a C-section can promptly be performed?
  5. Will there be a second physician immediately available so that if both my baby and I are in distress, there is one focusing on me and physician attending to my baby?
  6. Will you please thoroughly explain the risks and benefits of – and alternatives to – any medications (e.g., Pitocin / Cytotec to induce or speed up labor) or delivery instruments you are going to use (e.g., forceps or vacuum extractors)?

*** If the physician decides to use drugs or delivery instruments, it is important to ask her how much experience she has using them.


If you are seeking the help of a birth injury lawyer, it is very important to choose a lawyer and firm that focus solely on birth injury cases.  Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers is a national birth injury law firm that has been helping children for almost 3 decades.

Jesse Reiter, award-winning birth injury lawyerBirth injury lawyer Jesse Reiter, president of the firm, has been focusing solely on birth injury cases for over 28 years, and most of his cases involve hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and cerebral palsy.  The partners of the firm, Mr. Reiter and Rebecca Walsh, were recently recognized as two of the best medical malpractice lawyers in America by U.S. News and World Report.  In fact, U.S. News and World Report has given Mr. Reiter the honor of being one of the “Best Lawyers in America” every year since 2008.  The lawyers at ABC Law Centers have won numerous awards for their advocacy of children and are members of the Birth Trauma Litigation Group (BTLG) and the Michigan Association for Justice.

If your child was diagnosed with a permanent disability such as cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, intellectual disabilities or developmental delays, the award winning lawyers at ABC Law Centers can help.  We have helped children throughout the country obtain compensation for lifelong treatment, therapy and a secure future, and we give personal attention to each child and family we represent.  Our nationally recognized firm has numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements that attest to our success and no fees are ever paid to our firm until we win your case.  Email or call Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers at 888-419-2229 for a free case evaluation.  Our award winning lawyers are available 24 / 7 to speak with you.

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