While fairly rare, there are still about 6 to 8 birth injuries for every 1,000 births. Some birth injuries are unavoidable; not all complications can be prevented. Childbirth is a complicated process, and doctors and medical teams must make split-second decisions throughout labor and delivery.
Fractures, forceps injuries, brain damage, nerve damage, brachial palsy, and bruising are some of the most common birth injuries. Recovery can take days, weeks, or months, depending on the type of injury. Some birth injuries require care for the rest of the child’s life and, in the worst cases, are fatal. They can also lead to long-term health conditions like epilepsy, behavioral problems, and cerebral palsy. The trauma for both the parents and child can be extensive.
What should have been a joyous time can quickly become a nightmare, and if a doctor or other medical professional’s negligence during labor or delivery caused the birth injury, accepting what happened can be even more difficult.
While there are many well-known causes of birth injuries, like those that come from forceps, they happen in other ways. Medications that are administered or that should have been given during pregnancy or delivery can also cause a baby harm.
Since many types of medications can cause birth injuries, understanding the risks and the need to get proper medical care is important. And if you think a drug or a doctor’s failure to give you a medication caused your baby harm, consulting with a lawyer can help protect your present and future.
As DC birth injury attorneys, we’ve fought for families who have suffered unnecessarily due to medical malpractice and negligence during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. We can alleviate some of the burden as you focus on the health of your child.
Medications that May Cause Birth Injuries
Regular checkups throughout pregnancy can help ensure a mother and child remain healthy and that any possible complications and risks are discovered early and addressed accordingly. After all, what happens to a pregnant mother also happens to their unborn child.
While there are many causes of birth injuries, the link between medications and birth injuries is essential to explore and be aware of if you’re expecting. There are many medications and vitamins that are safe to take during pregnancy, but there are also drugs that can cause serious harm. Some medicines given to mothers during pregnancy and childbirth have harmful, lifelong effects.
There are illnesses, infections, and conditions a mother can pass onto her baby if they aren’t properly treated by a doctor. Timing is also important, as certain drugs are safe to administer at different points during pregnancy and labor; given at the wrong time or wrong dose, medications can cause birth injuries. Some drugs should never be taken while pregnant.
Antibiotics and Birth Injuries
Pregnant women need to take antibiotics when they have certain infections. Without them, their unborn baby can be put at risk. Example infections that are dangerous to babies and require the mother to take antibiotics during pregnancy and/or delivery include:
Group B Strep (GBS): This infection may be passed along to the baby, but it’s usually avoided by giving the mother antibiotics during labor. Failure to diagnose and treat GBS can cause serious birth injuries, including sepsis, cerebral palsy, brain damage, pneumonia, meningitis, and more.
Chorioamnionitis: A serious infection that occurs when bacteria enters any of the tissues or membranes around a fetus. If left untreated, it can cause serious birth injuries, including sepsis, meningitis, and brain and lung problems.
Chickenpox: Without specific antibiotics, pregnant women with chickenpox could cause an unborn baby to develop fetal varicella syndrome. The rare condition causes severe health effects in children, such as developmental delays, scarring, and shortened limbs.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): Not all STDs can be treated and cured with antibiotics, but some can. Antibiotics can prevent a pregnant woman from passing an STD to their child. A doctor’s failure to treat the infection can lead to preterm births and low birth weights.
Often, antibiotics have a crucial role in preventing birth injuries from occurring, but some antibiotics can be harmful to a baby. If your doctor gave you an antibiotic dangerous to your baby and a birth injury occurred, a medical malpractice lawsuit can help recover compensation for their negligence. Our DC birth injury lawyers have helped families in these complicated and distressing situations that could have been prevented and are here to fight for your family’s rights.
Other Medications and Birth Injuries
Beyond antibiotics, other types of medications can be dangerous to babies. The role of doctors in birth injuries is critical to understand because the improper dosage or timing of medication or incorrect placement of a drug while being administered can cause serious harm to a baby during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.
Common medications linked to birth injuries include:
Epidural Block: Frequently used during labor, an epidural decreases the mother’s pain. While generally a safe medication, research has shown links between epidurals and birth injuries. The drug itself isn’t harmful to a baby; instead, it may slow down labor, and a slow delivery increases the risks of birth injury. This is because forceps and vacuum extractors are more likely to be needed if labor isn’t progressing fast enough, putting the baby in danger of various complications, such as oxygen deprivation.
Pitocin: Pitocin is used to induce labor and may be administered for a variety of reasons, including being past a due date or when labor stops progressing. During childbirth, Pitocin can cause a baby’s heart rate to drop, so the labor and delivery team must carefully monitor both mom and child. When too much Pitocin is given, contractions may become too strong or too fast, putting the baby at risk of brain damage from oxygen deprivation or crushing the baby’s skull. The wrong dose can also cause extremely high blood pressure, resulting in seizures, a ruptured uterus, or an irregular or unsafe heart rate.
The Washington, DC birth injury lawyers at Paulson & Nace have held negligent doctors accountable for harm due to Pitocin. A medical malpractice lawsuit for medication linked to birth injuries can provide much-needed compensation for medical care and other losses.
Opioids: During labor, opioids may be administered to reduce pain. If the correct dose is given at the right time, there are low risks to the baby. Administered late, the baby may experience temporary birth injuries, such as respiratory problems or an abnormal heart rate.
However, using opioids during pregnancy carries much greater risks of birth injuries. Opioids can cause premature birth, and a baby may experience withdrawal symptoms that put them at risk of other health complications. Birth defects are another result of opioid use during pregnancy. If a doctor prescribed opioids while a patient was pregnant, but it was not the right medical decision, legal options are available.
Speaking with an experienced DC birth injury lawyer is the best way to determine whether a medical professional’s negligence caused your baby’s birth injury. These cases are complex, and you may be able to get justice and compensation for harm that should never have happened.
Hire a DC Birth Injury Attorney
Managing the aftermath of a traumatic labor and delivery can be overwhelming. Significant trust is placed in the hands of doctors and other medical professionals before, during, and after childbirth. A doctor’s expertise and decision making should give the mother and baby the best chance at a safe delivery. But sometimes, doctors are negligent when they administer or fail to administer drugs. When they don’t perform to the standard of care they’re held to, there can be serious repercussions that forever change lives.
Medical care for birth injuries adds up quickly, especially if it causes a permanent disability or chronic health condition. A DC birth injury lawyer can help parents recover compensation for current and future medical costs, pain and suffering, lost wages, and lost earning capacity. The injuries often lead to a parent taking time off work to care for their child, and in some cases, they become full-time caregivers.
At Paulson and Nace, we’ve gotten the compensation and justice families deserve for birth injuries caused by medical negligence. We know that protecting your child is your top priority, and we’re here to protect your legal rights so that your family’s present and future are secure. Contact us online or by phone at (202) 463-1999 for a free consultation.
Samantha L. Peters focuses her practice in the areas of medical malpractice, personal injury, wrongful death, and other negligence claims.