Millions of healthy babies are born to families in the United States each year. In 2009, the Michigan Department of Community Health reported that 117,309 babies were born in the state. Unfortunately, the data also showed that 208 of those babies suffered “significant birth injuries” – including nerve damage.
Nerve damage is caused by trauma affecting the nerves that carry information from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. The most common type of nerve injury that arises in newborns is called “peripheral nerve damage,” which impacts the nerves that are further out from the center of the body, particularly in the arms and shoulders. These injuries are often sustained during delivery and sometimes lead to permanent paralysis.
Nerve Damage and Your Baby
Birth injuries and medical malpractice can occur from actions that a doctor takes throughout a pregnancy. It can also result from a failure to take medically appropriate action during the course of the delivery.
External forces are commonly responsible for nerve damage that infants sustain during delivery. Many times, the injuries that a baby receives are temporary and subside within a few weeks. Unfortunately, other babies are not as lucky and are left with damage that cannot be reversed.
Nerve trauma in babies may include:
- Brachial plexus injury: This condition is caused by injury to the brachial plexus, a group of nerves around the shoulder and affecting the arms and hands. Damage can occur when the baby’s shoulder, head and/or neck are not positioned properly in the birth canal. It also can happen when the baby is delivered feet first in a breech position. There are three types of brachial palsy, which are characterized by the degree of paralysis the newborn is experiencing:
- Brachial palsy: Only the upper arm is affected.
- Erb’s palsy: Both the upper and lower arms are damaged.
- Klumpke paralysis: Only the infant’s hand is involved.
- Facial paralysis: Pressure exerted on the baby’s face during a forceps delivery can cause nerve damage on one side, which can lead to an asymmetrical appearance. This is often a temporary condition, but can result in surgery if the nerve is severed completely.
- Diaphragm paralysis: The diaphragm is a thin, dome-shaped muscle that separates the chest organs from the abdomen. If nerve damage occurs to one side of the diaphragm, the newborn may have trouble breathing.
It is important to remember that the fact that a birth injury occurred does not necessarily mean your family is the victim of medical malpractice. A qualified birth injury attorney can help you analyze your medical records, determine if your doctors used the appropriate degree of skill and care during your pregnancy and delivery, and advise if you have legal standing to take action against a hospital or medical provider.
Contact Our Birth Injury Lawyers Today
Michigan Injury Lawyers is a full service law firm with a team of knowledgeable personal injury attorneys who are committed to obtaining the best possible financial results for our clients. Our attorneys have extensive experience in medical malpractice claims.
If you believe that you or a family member has suffered a birth-related injury, you may have grounds for a legal claim against the medical provider. Michigan Injury Lawyers represents victims of medical malpractice throughout the state. We have helped many victims in Michigan recover what was rightfully theirs. We can help you and your family, too. Call us at 313-438-4357 for a free evaluation of your claim.