A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can leave the victim with memory loss, confusion, cognitive issues, and severe motor skill issues that often require help with day-to-day tasks and could legally qualify as a disability. A baby suffering a TBI at birth is rare but could be the core cause of many complications.
Babies can suffer TBIs during birth, but these are rare. For a baby to suffer a brain injury from trauma, there must usually be some negligence involved, such as dropping the newborn. However, other brain injuries are more common and can lead to similar symptoms and complications.
Reach out to our Baltimore birth injury attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras by calling (410) 694-7291 for a free case review.
Can Babies Suffer Traumatic Brain Injuries?
A baby’s brain and skull are not nearly as developed as those of a larger child, let alone a full-grown adult. As such, their heads are more susceptible to injury, and newborns can indeed suffer TBIs at birth. However, the incidence of a TBI at birth is quite low.
Traumatic brain injuries, as the name implies, result from trauma rather than some other cause. That is, TBIs are specifically caused by blunt-force trauma, such as a blow to the head. The most common way that this occurs with newborn babies is when they are dropped. It likely constitutes medical malpractice for your doctor or a nurse involved in their care to drop your baby during the delivery or in the early stages of their postnatal care. Even dropping a baby onto a table or into a crib can result in severe brain injuries because of how soft a newborn baby’s skull is. If your doctor did drop your baby and negligently caused a TBI, our Maryland personal injury lawyers can help.
Identifying a traumatic brain injury in a newborn can be difficult, as the signs and symptoms are sometimes hard to identify in babies and overlap with many other brain injuries and health issues. Generally, any signs of brain damage could potentially indicate a TBI, such as floppy movements, trouble swallowing, seizures, excess drooling, and unresponsiveness. However, other brain injuries might be more likely in newborns.
Other Brain Injuries Newborns Might Suffer as Birth Injuries in Maryland
Although a TBI might be one of the most common brain injuries in adults and children, babies often suffer brain damage and brain injuries in other ways. These can lead to similar symptoms as TBI and they often result in long-term conditions like cerebral palsy. These injuries might also result in ongoing care needs and life-long disabilities. Often, these injuries are caused by other mistakes that our Maryland birth injury lawyers can help you seek justice for.
Hypoxic and anoxic brain injuries stem from low oxygen or a complete lack of oxygen rather than a blow to the head. These kinds of brain injuries are also rare but can occur during deliveries and are often known as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Most commonly, hypoxic and anoxic brain injuries occur when the baby gets stuck in the birth canal or is unable to be delivered because of complications the doctor failed to take into account.
Babies in utero receive oxygen through the umbilical cord. That means that breech-position complications, an umbilical cord wrapped around the neck, or a baby stuck in the birth canal could all cause compression of the umbilical cord, cut off the baby’s oxygen flow and cause brain injuries. These are some of the most common ways that cerebral palsy occurs in children.
Often, these conditions occur because the doctor failed to recognize risks or symptoms early enough to use different techniques and procedures to avoid injury. If an emergency C-section is necessary to protect the baby from injury and the doctor fails to perform one, the doctor could also be liable for the resulting injuries.
Babies can also face oxygenation issues after birth if they are having trouble breathing on their own. Doctors should look out for symptoms like weak crying or blueish skin and intervene as necessary to avoid suffocation injuries. If your doctor failed to properly intervene, our Baltimore personal injury lawyers might be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against them.
Injuries from Tools
Brain injuries can also result from compression or pressure on the skull rather than a traumatic blow. Obstetricians sometimes rely on tools in cases where the tool is inappropriate, or they mis-use a tool even when its use is called for.
Forceps are large metal tongs used to grip a baby’s head and assist the doctor in pulling the baby from the birth canal. They are one of the most common tools that can cause unnecessary compression and potentially injure a baby’s skull and brain. When a doctor uses forceps unnecessarily, they put the baby at higher risk of injury. Additionally, any time forceps are used, there is a chance the doctor could apply too much pressure and injure the baby’s head and brain.
Vacuum extractors are also over-used and misused, potentially resulting in brain injuries. This tool is essentially a large cup on the end of a vacuum that is pressed against the child’s head to allow the doctor to pull on the tubing and pull the baby out of the birth canal. If the tool is used unnecessarily or the pressure is too high, the baby’s head and brain can be injured by the excessive force.
Often, doctors should turn to tools like forceps and vacuum extractors before resorting to a C-section, but many doctors use these tools without justification and risk additional injury to the newborn. Our Aberdeen personal injury lawyers can hold doctors responsible for these medical mistakes.
Newborns are less able to fight infection, and infections passed from the mother to the baby could cause brain injuries. Your doctor should take steps to avoid injury and screen the baby for infection if the risk is present.
Often called hydrocephalus, brain injuries can also be caused by a buildup of fluid in the baby’s brain. Your doctor should be able to recognize risk factors, like genetic factors and a large skull, allowing them to take steps to avoid injury and potentially treat the condition.
Call Our Maryland Birth Injury Lawyers Today
Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras’ Ocean City personal injury lawyers at (410) 694-7291 for a free case evaluation.