5 in every 1000 babies born in England suffers symptoms of a brain injury, with babies born prematurely being 7 times more likely to be affected. This can lead to lifelong health consequences, including conditions such as cerebral palsy, as well as learning difficulties and other developmental issues.
Birth injuries can also include damage to the shoulder and other types of physical trauma that can result in conditions such as Erb’s Palsy, which can have a significant impact on a child’s life and wellbeing.
While some birth injuries may be unavoidable, it is often the case that significant risk factors are missed or not appropriately managed, meaning that many birth injuries could potentially be prevented if the right action were taken.
It is therefore important for medical staff and expectant mothers to be aware of the most common risk factors for birth injuries, so they can ensure the right medical support is given to minimise the chances of injury at birth.
Medical conditions that increase the risk of birth injuries
There are various medical conditions an expectant mother can have that may increase the risk of a birth injury to their child.
This includes conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Severe asthma
- Cystic fibrosis
- Blood disorders (e.g. sickle-cell disease)
- Maternal infections
The exact risks these conditions can present will depend on the circumstances, but in general the most common problem is where there is a reduction in the supply of oxygen reaching the baby before or during the birth. This can lead to the baby’s brain or other organs being starved of oxygen, leading to permanent damage.
Pregnancy complications that can increase the risk of birth injuries
Any complications experienced during a pregnancy can potentially increase the risk to the baby, with some of the most common risk factors being:
- Prolonged labour
- Multiple births (twins, triplets etc.)
- Placental praevia (where the placenta blocks the cervix)
- Premature birth
- Gestational diabetes
- Damage to the placenta
- Breech births
Again, the most common issue is that the baby ends up being starved of oxygen, leading to brain damage and damage to other organs. However, in the case of a difficult birth, the use of inappropriate force or incorrect use of birth assistance tools, such as forceps and vacuum extraction (ventouse), can also cause physical trauma, such as damage to the brain or the nerves of the shoulder.
Claiming compensation for a birth injury
If your baby suffered a birth injury, claiming compensation can be essential to help you deal with the consequences for their health and well-being. Depending on the seriousness of their condition, they may need on-going treatment and support for the rest of their life, as well as funds in place to provide for them in adulthood if they are unable to work.
Birth injury compensation claims can be very high value, but are also often complex and contentious. It is therefore strongly recommended to contact a firm of solicitors specialising in birth injuries to make sure you get the expert advice and guidance you need.
An experienced birth injury lawyer will be able to advise you on the strength of your claim and the amount of compensation you may be able to secure. They should then be able to guide you through the entire claims process, helping you to get the best available settlement.
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