Childbirth is an amazing and beautiful feat, but it’s also a traumatic experience for both mother and infant. In those trying moments when the world seems to slow down and speed up all at once, you trust your doctors and nurses to know what’s best for both you and your newborn. Sometimes (and more often than you might think) the actions or inactions of the very medical professionals who have sworn to “do no harm” leave your baby with birth injuries caused by medical malpractice.
Some birth injuries can be treated effectively right away if they’re diagnosed, but these injuries often go unnoticed for months or years. These range from mild to severe, causing lifelong disability from brain damage or paralysis. That seems to be especially prevalent in Washington D.C. where infant mortality is the third highest in the country.
If you think your newborn baby has suffered a birth injury, there are some signs and symptoms you can watch for that are evident soon after birth, including:
1. Your Newborn’s Movements
Some of the early signs of birth injury can also be attributed to other health conditions that could be genetic or otherwise separate from medical malpractice, but these symptoms are often the first to arise:
- Sensitivity to light
- Crying while arching back
- Trouble breathing
- Issues swallowing, eating, and sucking
- Constant fussiness with no reason
- Excessive high-pierced crying
- Excessive grunting
Few tests can identify early signs of birth injuries. Cerebral palsy is a good example as it’s one of the most common birth injuries. Generally, severe cerebral palsy is diagnosed within the first two years.
2. Your Baby’s Overall Health
Sometimes an infant won’t exhibit the behavior and problems listed above, but certain aspects of their health could pinpoint medical malpractice or negligence. Early birth injury symptoms involving your baby’s overall health include:
- Vision changes
- Hearing loss
- Low heart rate
- Low blood oxygen levels
- Constant coughing
- Pale skin or waxy appearance
- Inflamed nasal passages
3. Muscle and Bone-Related Birth Injuries
Brain damage from lack of oxygen or nerve damage from forceful maneuvering through the birth canal can both result in muscular symptoms and bone injuries such as:
- A “claw-like” hand curl
- Fractured skull
- Weak movements
- Patchy back hair
- Favoring one side
- Missing or weak reflexes
- Stiff or loose muscles that can alternate
- A hand or arm bent in toward the body
In most circumstances, a newborn infant with serious injuries will show signs from each section, which will likely worsen as your baby grows. Birth injuries that don’t exhibit symptoms until later on are more likely to manifest as slowed development such as learning to sit up, crawl, and walk much later than other babies at that age.
If you suspect your child has suffered a birth injury related to medical malpractice, please contact our D.C. attorney as soon as possible at (202) 554-1449 for a FREE case evaluation. Portner and Shure serve clients in the D.C. area including Maryland and Virginia.