Medical Mistakes at Delivery That Can Cause Cerebral Palsy in Babies

mother holding newborn, Medical Mistakes at Delivery That Can Cause Cerebral Palsy in Babies

The Risk of Obstetrical Error

The birth of a child is a momentous occasion. It is also fraught with medical risk. Most obstetricians and other medical professionals delivering babies have high commitment and the appropriate skills. Those who don’t are one of the main causes of cerebral palsy in babies.

Some medical professionals are so new to the practice that they may lack professional judgment. Other medical professionals may be so senior in practice that they lack current skills. And some just make mistakes, as humans are prone to do, whether from fatigue, distraction, or even substance abuse. 

The Duluth medical malpractice lawyer Charles Scholle and the expert personal injury team at Scholle Law are ready to help when medical professionals and hospitals injure mother or child. 

The Grave Consequences of Obstetrical Error

Given the precarious health of both mother and child at the moment of delivery, obstetrical errors can have grave consequences. A National Institute of Health study confirms that birth trauma can take several forms. Some of those forms involve physical injury to the delivered infant. 

For example, high forceps deliveries can cause injuries to the infant’s skull, spine, and nervous system. Improper use of forceps is one of the better-known causes of cerebral palsy in babies. 

Vaginal deliveries of macrosomic infants can cause brachial-plexus injuries as the infant’s broad shoulders pass through the narrow birth canal. Physical injuries to the infant from vaginal deliveries that should have been by Cesarean section are deeply troubling. 

The Special Hazard of Anoxia

Just as troubling or more troubling than physical injuries are brain and nervous system injuries that can occur to the infant during prolonged labor. The infant must maintain good blood flow to the brain throughout delivery. 

Restricted blood flow to the brain, known as hypoxia, places the brain at risk of damage. When a delivery cuts off blood to the brain entirely for a time, known as anoxia, injury is almost sure to follow. 

Brain injury from hypoxia and anoxia are widely-recognized medical risks. Serious brain injury at delivery can mentally disable the child for life, stunting the child’s mental and physical development into adulthood.

Causes of Anoxic Events at Birth

Vaginal deliveries can create special hazards for infant anoxia and resultant severe brain injury. Some infants suffer unfortunate umbilical cord injuries. The umbilical cord may wrap itself around the infant’s neck, cutting off blood flow to the brain. The umbilical cord may become looped, compressed, or kinked in a way that deprives the whole infant of the mother’s oxygenated blood, causing the infant an anoxic brain injury. 

Pressure in the birth canal on the infant’s head may prevent the brain’s adequate oxygenation. The infant’s prolonged delivery distress, in general, may reduce healthy blood flow to the infant’s brain. 

Immediately after prolonged labor and difficult birth, the injured infant may require oxygen that the hospital or pediatrician fails to provide. 

In short, infant anoxia is often discoverable and avoidable, making them all the more unfortunate when they occur. Medical malpractice attorney Charles Scholle and the expert personal injury team at Scholle Law help families investigate and pursue these extraordinarily troubling claims. 

Cesarean Section to the Rescue

Obstetrical medicine maintains standards for when the delivering physician should recommend and perform a Cesarean section rather than a vaginal delivery. 

Proper medical monitoring of the infant’s size and mother’s health and weight gain during gestation can help predict vaginal delivery risks. Obstetricians can and should recommend Cesarean section when an unborn infant grows too large too fast. Macrosomic infants, as medicine calls the oversized unborn child, are also a special hazard of certain conditions like gestational diabetes, which the medical professionals should monitor. 

Medical malpractice attorney Charles Scholle and the expert personal injury team at Scholle Law help families investigate and pursue claims where the medical professional failed to diagnose macrosomia and recommend Cesarean section. Monitoring for Infant Distress

Obstetrical medicine also maintains standards to monitor fetal distress during prolonged delivery. When infants lose blood flow to the brain, their heart pumps faster to attempt to make up for the loss. Monitoring the unborn infant’s heart rate can reduce or eliminate the risk of anoxic events. 

Nurses typically have standing orders to listen to the unborn infant’s heart rate. Medical professionals also use electronic infant heart-rate monitors to alert to sudden or prolonged heart rate increases, suggesting hypoxia and anoxia. 

When failure to monitor the infant’s heart rate leads to an anoxic injury to the infant’s brain, the team at Scholle Law stands ready. Medical malpractice attorney Charles Scholle and the expert personal injury team at Scholle Law help families investigate and pursue claims.

Infant Cerebral Palsy 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain that cerebral palsy is a disorder affecting one’s ability to move and balance and is the most common motor disorder among children. Babies suffering from cerebral palsy may not hold their heads up and may remain stiff or be floppy in one’s arms. 

Older babies with the condition won’t roll over, bring their hands together, or bring a hand to the mouth. They may eventually crawl lopsided or scoot rather than crawl at all. 

Medications, braces, surgeries, and therapies may improve some children’s motor responses and balance. Severe cerebral palsy into adulthood can mean a life of severe impairment, social isolation, mobility restriction, and work disability. 

Causes of Cerebral Palsy in Babies Due to Anoxia at Delivery

Anoxia at birth is a recognized cause of cerebral palsy in babies. If you or a loved one have an infant who has cerebral palsy following a prolonged or difficult delivery, contact Charles Scholle and the expert medical malpractice team at Scholle Law to consider a birth trauma claim. 

The medical records and other evidence of the delivery may show that the responsible medical professionals committed medical malpractice, including under one or more of the following theories:

  • Failed to monitor maternal health for macrosomia
  • Failed to recommend a Cesarean section
  • Inappropriately recommended a high-risk vaginal delivery
  • Failed to monitor fetal heart rate during delivery
  • Failed to take prompt action to relieve fetal distress

Causation as a Defense

Cerebral palsy can have other causes both before and shortly after birth. Causation is one way that medical professionals and their liability insurers defend cases where the medical professionals clearly failed to monitor maternal health for macrosomia, failed to recommend a Cesarean section, failed to monitor fetal heart rate during delivery, and failed to oxygenate the infant immediately after delivery. 

Don’t let causation become your claim’s downfall. When you retain medical malpractice lawyer Charles Scholle and the expert team at Scholle Law, you tap into a network of medical and legal professionals who know how to investigate and prove causation.