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Birth Injury Solicitors

Birth injuries to babies can sadly occur for a number of different reasons.  The information on this page focuses on the predominant causes of birth injuries to babies in medical negligence claims.        

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a condition that covers a wide range of symptoms stemming from an injury to a baby’s brain resulting in disorders in their movements.  More information about the specific types of cerebral palsy and the different movement disorders can be found here. The most common (but not all) causes of cerebral palsy are:

  • Oxygen starvation of the brain at birth

    This can happen for a number of different reasons; for example, the baby becoming stuck and squeezed in the pelvis just before delivery or the umbilical cord becoming twisted and wrapped around the baby’s neck.   Monitoring of the baby’s heart rate should detect any distress associated with oxygen starvation of the brain.  If this is identified, delivery of the child may be brought forward with an assisted delivery (forceps) or caesarean section.

  • Infection

    If the mother of a baby is suffering from an infection (Group B Streptococcal or Herpes, for example) this can be passed onto to the child before or during the labour.  If infection is suspected, the mother may be given antibiotics to try and stop the baby acquiring the infection.  If, after the delivery, the baby has contracted the infection it is crucial that this is diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.  Without early treatment the infection is likely to worsen and cause serious inflammation and damage to the baby’s vulnerable brain.

Birth injury claims resulting in cerebral palsy are often complex.  Minton Morrill have a team of specialist medical negligence solicitors experienced in these types of cases and have secured very high settlements for children that have suffered from avoidable injuries.  Click here for examples.

Brachial Plexus

Brachial Plexus injuries occur when the nerve fibres in a baby’s spine, neck and arms are excessively stretched during their delivery.  This network of nerves is responsible for feeling and movement within the shoulder, arms, hands and fingers.  If it is damaged, it can cause weakness and loss of movement/feeling which can result in lifelong disability, especially without intensive physiotherapy.  

This page focuses on the main causes of brachial plexus injuries (click here for information about the different types of brachial plexus injuries).  They are usually caused when the baby is stuck in the birth canal and attempts are made to deliver the baby with forceps or vacuum extraction (Ventouse).  Pulling, with force, from one end can, when the other end is stuck, can, of course, cause considerable damage to a delicate baby.   Prolonged and/or a difficult deliveries are also often seen in brachial plexus medical negligence cases but other factors also include:

  • Breech delivery

    This is where the baby moves position in the womb and is delivered bottom or feet first, rather than head first, resulting in a greater chance of the baby’s typically wider upper body (particularly the shoulders) becoming stuck and injured in the mother’s birth canal.    

  • Large birth weight and size

    Larger babies are most at risk of becoming stuck in their mother’s birth canal.   

Like cerebral palsy, brachial plexus medical negligence claims are complex.  They are potentially very high value claims because children with such injuries may require lifelong care and support.   Minton Morrill’s team of specialist medical negligence solicitors have experience investigating whether the care provided was appropriate and, if not, obtaining damages for clients. Click here for examples.

Stillbirth

Stillbirths (a baby being born dead) are generally rare in the United Kingdom.  Advanced antenatal screening and monitoring are in place to assess a baby’s development throughout the pregnancy.  If this monitoring is not properly performed and/or investigations into a problem not carried out, the baby’s condition can deteriorate.  If this is not appropriately considered and/or treated the baby is likely to become weaker and susceptible to other problems which may sadly lead to stillbirth. 

The causes of stillbirth can be varied but one more typical feature is a failure to appropriately plot and review a baby’s development in accordance with national fetal growth rates.  Falling below growth rates (in particular a rapid drop) indicates something maybe wrong and the baby may be susceptible to further problems unless treatment is provided or the delivery brought forward.      

Wrongful Birth

Wrongful birth is a Court derived description of the delicate situation when a baby is born either with a disability that should have been identified through appropriate tests in the antenatal period or as a result of a parent’s failed sterilisation or vasectomy resulting in pregnancy.  

The failure to provide the baby’s parents with information about a disability and not allowing them the opportunity to decide whether or not to continue with the pregnancy is key.  Examples include conditions routinely screened for such as Downs Syndrome and Spina Bifida.  If this type of claim can be established, significant compensation for the child’s future treatment needs will be pursued.   

When a healthy baby is born as a result of sub-standard sterilisation or vasectomy, the award of damages is limited to compensation to the parents for the distress of having an unwanted child (and potentially of undergoing a termination of the pregnancy) together with any financial losses incurred as a result, such as loss of earnings.  The cost of raising a healthy child cannot be pursued.  

Other injuries

Babies can of course suffer other injuries during their birth.  Forceps deliveries, in particular, increase the risk of avoidable facial scarring and, in some cases, injuries to nerves in the face.  Our solicitors at Minton Morrill have a wealth of experience in this area and will be able to advise whether there is a medical negligence claim to investigate with a view to obtaining compensation. 

 

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Our Experience of Birth Injury Claims

Baby stillborn after hospital failed to recognise development issues

Baby J was stillborn, scans showed that he was developing slowly and was underweight at key dates during the pregnancy. This should have been recognised and he should have been delivered earlier, but the medical team failed to take action and sadly the baby...

Death of baby following brain injury during complicated birth

Baby M died within hours of being born, after being delivered with severe brain damage. Baby M’s mother was induced into labour and during labour suffered a rupture to her uterus, which was ignored by the medical professionals treating her. The baby...

Girl suffers following mother's cardiac arrest during delivery

M is a young girl who sustained an injury at birth after her mother went into cardiac arrest during labour. This caused M to be deprived of oxygen, and resulted in a brachial plexus injury causing major weakness to her left arm. She has been left with a...