Was Your Child’s Brain Injured During Delivery?

When parents receive the terrible news that their newborn has suffered a brain injury, the first instinct is to want to protect their child and do everything they can to ensure their child has the best possible chance of recovery. But eventually, at some point, the parents usually ask the difficult question: how did my child’s injury happen and could their injury have been prevented?

If your child has sustained a brain injury during the delivery process that you suspect may have been caused because a doctor, a hospital, or another healthcare provider or facility was negligent, you should contact a Halifax birth injury lawyer as quickly as possible to discuss your child’s rights and legal options.

How do brain injuries happen to babies during delivery? How is liability (fault) determined for a birth-related brain injury? What are the long-term physical and psychological effects of birth-related brain injuries? And what legal recourse do parents have if their child has been injured at birth?

If you’ll keep reading this brief overview of birth-related brain injuries and your family’s rights, you will find the answers to these questions, and you will also learn how a Nova Scotia birth injury lawyer will fight for the justice your family needs after a birth-related brain injury.

What Are the Causes of Birth-Related Brain Injuries?

The direct physical cause of most birth-related brain injuries is a reduction or lack of oxygen to the brain. A failure by healthcare providers to recognize oxygen deprivation and to respond to it immediately constitutes medical malpractice, and it is also the leading reason for birth-related brain injuries.

Oxygen deprivation – the medical term is “asphyxia” – may be caused by decreased blood flow, a ruptured uterus, early detachment of the placenta, a twisted or pinched umbilical cord, or a blocked air passage. Other causes of birth-related brain injuries include:

  1.  Physical trauma, which can injure a child when the mother’s pelvis or birth canal pressures the infant’s skull.
  2.  Maternal infections including meningitis, rubella, cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis, and intrauterine infections which may transfer to the child through the umbilical cord.
  3.  Immediately after delivery, during the neonatal period, untreated jaundice, can cause kernicterus, a serious type of brain damage that may cause hearing loss, cerebral palsy, or in some cases, death.

What Are the Different Birth-Related Brain Injuries?

During the delivery process, a newborn may suffer several different types of brain injuries which may lead to long-term disabilities:

  1.  When a baby’s brain does not get enough blood or oxygen for an extended length of time, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a common birth-related brain injury. HIE may cause cerebral palsy, learning difficulties, and other developmental problems.
  2.  Periventricular leukomalacia is a brain injury most frequently seen in premature infants that happens when the inner part of the brain is damaged by a lack of blood flow. Periventricular leukomalacia may eventually result in vision problems, spastic muscles, or cerebral palsy.
  3.  Hydrocephalus is a buildup of fluid in the brain that increases the size of a child’s head. If not treated swiftly with surgery, hydrocephalus may cause epilepsy and learning, vision, or physical coordination problems.
  4.  Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) is bleeding in and near the hollow spaces of the brain.
  5.  Newborn cephalohematoma causes blood to pool under a baby’s skull and create visible bulges or bumps on the back of the head. If untreated, newborn cephalohematoma eventually leads to a number of long-term physical and psychological complications.

How Do Birth-Related Brain Injuries Affect Children?

The effects of birth-related brain injuries may be physical and/or psychological and may change as the child grows and the brain develops. The more common effects of birth-related brain injuries include:

  1.  Difficulties with mobility, balance, muscle weakness, and coordination;
  2.  Weight gain, diabetes, or reduction of body hair due to hormonal imbalances;
  3.  Difficulties with memory;
  4.  Difficulties with emotions, mood swings, anxiety, and depression; and
  5.  Cognitive deficits that cause problems with speech, language, and communication.

A birth-related brain injury may affect a child’s quality of life, temporarily or permanently, in a variety of different ways. Cerebral palsy, for example, is an incurable lifelong condition that affects a person’s ability to control his or her muscles.

Can Birth-Related Brain Injuries Be Prevented?

Despite an impressive array of recent technological and medical advances, birth-related brain injuries still happen far too often in Canada. Most birth-related brain injuries, however, could have been prevented with timely medical intervention.

When birth-related brain injuries are caused by medical negligence, parents are entitled by law to compensation for their child’s medical care and other related expenses and their child is entitled to compensation for their injuries, and loss of potential future income and the enormous future medical expenses they may have.

Most medical malpractice claims for birth-related brain injuries typically name multiple parties who may be responsible for the injury. Any party that has potential liability – a doctor, nurse, anesthesiologist, clinic, or hospital may be named as a defendant in a medical malpractice case.

How Do Medical Malpractice Lawyers Help Families?

If a birth-related brain injury happens in the Halifax area or anywhere in Nova Scotia or Atlantic Canada parents should reach out as quickly as possible to a Halifax birth injury lawyer. We will review the medical records, question the witnesses, and consult independent medical experts.

Parents must receive reliable legal advice immediately after a child sustains a birth-related brain injury. After considering the details of your case, your lawyer will identify the parties that may be liable and explain the details of pursuing a medical malpractice claim.

If your child has sustained a birth-related brain injury, contact a Nova Scotia birth injury lawyer for a no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation. You will receive personalized legal advice about your family’s rights, your child’s legal options, and how the law in Nova Scotia applies to your case.

When Should Parents Contact a Birth Injury Lawyer?

Nova Scotia’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is typically two years from the date you become aware of the injury. But in cases involving injury to an infant, the time limit does not start to run until the injured child reaches the age of majority (19 years in Nova Scotia). So even if it has been many years since your child was born, and many years since your child was injured, it still may not be too late to get advice about their legal rights. They may still have the right to pursue a claim for compensation for their injuries. Don’t wait, contact a lawyer at once after a birth-related brain injury.

A child’s birth-related brain injury may require medical care for life. Birth injury claims require legal counsel that has an advanced understanding of the complicated medical issues involved in obstetric and neonatal medicine and the numerous rehabilitative and adaptive needs persons with serious disabilities require to lead the most productive life possible.

How is a Birth Injury Lawyer Paid?

Birth injury lawyers in the Halifax area, like McKiggan Hebert represent parents on a contingent fee basis, which means that parents pay no fee upfront, and they owe their lawyer nothing until and unless that lawyer recovers their compensation.

A birth injury is always tragic. In cases where this type of tragedy was preventable, you and your child need and deserve justice.

Nothing is more important than your baby’s health and well-being. If your newborn has sustained a preventable birth-related brain injury, make the call to a birth injury lawyer in the Halifax area, and get the legal help you need – without delay.