Problems in ante-natal care
There are many reasons why a baby growing in the womb may be starved of oxygen or suffer in some other way. The purpose of ante-natal care is to help prevent and eliminate as many of these as possible. So, if the mother has pre-eclampsia, obstetric cholestasis, diabetes or some other risk factor, then steps can be taken to reduce the possibility of harm to the baby. If these steps are not taken and the baby suffers as a result, there may be grounds for a birth injury claim.
Problems during delivery
All babies are at risk during delivery, whether natural, forceps, ventouse or Caesarean Section. If the birth is mishandled, the baby can suffer broken bones, nerve damage and even brain damage from oxygen starvation. Oxygen starvation can lead to a child developing lifelong disabilities, such as Cerebral Palsy.
Injuries to the baby that can lead to a birth injury claim
- Cerebral Palsy and other brain injuries
- Erb's Palsy
- Forceps delivery or ventouse delivery
- Fractures to the skull, legs, arms, shoulder and collarbone
- Klumpke's Palsy
- Spinal injuries
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- Pay nothing as the claim progresses
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More information on birth injuries to babies
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral Palsy is a term that describes a group of conditions caused by an injury to the developing brain. In most cases, it occurs before, during or shortly after delivery. Typically, it affects movement, co-ordination and posture. Cerebral Palsy symptoms vary greatly depending on how the brain has been damaged and can include difficulties with walking, problems with speech, and learning difficulties.Types of Cerebral Palsy include: Spastic Hemiplegia, Spastic Diplegia, Ataxic Cerebral Palsy, Athetoid (Dyskinetic) Cerebral Palsy and Spastic Quadriplegia.
How is Cerebral Palsy caused?
1 in 400 births are diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy every year in the UK. Mostly, it happens because of a problem affecting the baby's brain development in the womb. This could include damage to the brain's white matter, thought to be due to a reduction in the supply of oxygen or blood to the baby.
It can also be caused by the baby suffering a stroke or because the mother contracted an infection such as chickenpox and rubella during her pregnancy. It can also happen if the baby's head is injured.
During or after the birth, it can be caused by a temporary lack of oxygen to the baby, a head injury, stroke or meningitis or other brain infection.
Babies born before 37 weeks are more at risk of Cerebral Palsy because their brains are less developed and their risk of infection is higher than those born at full-term.
Cerebral Palsy is non-progressive, which means that it will not get worse with age. There is currently no known cure. However, there are treatments that can help to reduce the symptoms associated with the condition.
How is Cerebral Palsy diagnosed?
If your child is unwell from birth or later or does not meet their milestones, then they may be referred to a paediatrician. If the paediatrician suspects Cerebral Palsy then they will often arrange for tests. They will then advise if other referrals are appropriate, such as to a physiotherapist, speech and language therapist or to an educational psychologist.
Once a diagnosis has been made, if avoidable damage was caused to the brain during the child’s birth or during the mother's ante-natal care, then they may be eligible to make a Cerebral Palsy claim.
What is Shoulder Dystocia?
Shoulder dystocia is where the baby's shoulder gets stuck after delivery of the head. It is an obstetric emergency and the baby needs prompt assistance to be delivered as the umbilical cord can be compressed, causing oxygen starvation.
During the birth, damage can occur to the brachial plexus nerves - a network of nerves that send signals from the spinal cord to the shoulders, arms and hands. If damaged, a number of problems can occur, including Erb's Palsy.
Shoulder dystocia can lead to disability or even death. It can also cause a number of problems for the mother, including haemorrhage and third and fourth degree tears.
What can making a birth injury claim achieve?
Legal action can't resolve all of the problems that flow from negligent treatment. As lawyers, our role is to try to obtain financial compensation for injury that has been suffered. Whilst no amount of money can turn the clock back, it can help towards the large added costs involved in looking after a disabled child, such as paying for care, treatment and special equipment.
Although we will try to get an apology for you, this is not always possible, even if the Defendants agree to pay compensation. However, if we investigate your claim, we can usually help you to understand what went wrong and why, even if we have to advise you that the circumstances are such that a claim can't be pursued.
Leon died at 4 days old from sepsis which had gone untreated. Intravenous antibiotics could have saved him. Following an Inquest, at which the Coroner was critical of the hospital, breech of duty was admitted and Leon’s mother was awarded £35,000 in compensation. His father was awarded £4,000 and his grandmother £12,500 for the trauma they had each experienced.Read more