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Health Law

: Cerebral Palsy Law Blog

Birth Injuries and How to Protect Your Child

By David Austin

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Birth injuries happen each day around the world and new research has made the causes of these injuries known to the public. At times, birth injuries can happen due to medical malpractice, or a mistake or failure to act on the doctor's part during delivery. As a result, disabilities can develop, and a child with cerebral palsy can affect and his or her family, for the rest of their life.  

In the case that a disability like cerebral palsy does result from medical malpractice, a medical malpractice lawsuit may be filed. However, like other medical malpractice claims, the case must show evidence that the malpractice resulted in a birth injury and the doctor or health care provider acted negligently. To have a successful case and prove negligence, the plaintiffs must be able to show and prove through documentation that the health care provider failed to provide adequate care for the child and the birth mother during the delivery. The plaintiffs and the cerebral palsy attorney must also be able to prove that as a result of the failure for proper care a birth injury occurred.

 The Doctors Responsibility During Delivery

There are reportedly a number of circumstances that can lead to and prove a physician's negligence as being the cause of a birth injury like cerebral palsy. For instance, during the delivery of the child, the doctor is required to closely monitor the heart rate and oxygen levels of both the mother and baby. If these levels drop too low or rise too high, it may indicate that the baby is in distress, in which the doctor would need to take immediate action to ensure a healthy delivery. If the doctor fails to take immediate and proper action, the baby may suffer from oxygen deprivation, also known as hypoxia. This can put him or her at risk of developing cerebral palsy or suffering from another brain injury.  
 
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and other U.S. medical organizations have established particular standards and guidelines for monitoring heart and oxygen statistics during childbirth. If these medical standards are not followed and a birth injury results, the doctor and other health care providers may be held liable for medical malpractice. 
 
What is the Difference Between a Birth Injury and a Birth Defect? 
 
According to research, there is a clear distinction between birth injuries and birth defects. Although both may occur during pregnancy, a birth defect may be the result of a medical condition and in such cases, the doctor or other health care provider typically can't be held liable. An example of a genetic birth defect is Down syndrome. However, some birth defects can also be caused by external conditions, such as what the mother is exposed to during her pregnancy. Harmful exposure to toxins like benzene and other chemicals can result in birth defects. Bacteria and other substances in certain foods, like high concentrations of mercury in fish can also result in a child being born with a health problem. Though birth defects typically aren't the doctor's fault, there are some cases where a medical malpractice lawsuit may be filed because the negligent acts of the doctor or health care provider caused the defect.  
 
Both birth injuries and birth defects can have devastating physical, mental, emotional and financial consequences for a child and his or her parents. But an experienced medical malpractice attorney can review your claim and help you and your loved ones determine if pursuing legal action is the best action to take.

Full post as published by Cerebral Palsy Law Blog on December 24, 2009 (boomark / email).

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