Common Infant Brain Injuries in Lexington

by | Mar 18, 2022 | Medical Malpractice

The average newborn baby in Kentucky weighs about seven pounds. That’s not much heavier than a two-liter bottle of soda. So, during birth, if a doctor uses enough force on a baby’s head to unscrew the top of a Coke bottle, that pressure could cause a permanent brain injury. Something as slight as gently pushing the baby’s head to one side in order to help him/her drift down the mother’s birth canal could cause a serious injury.

Inaction sometimes causes fetal brain injuries. This inaction usually involves issues with the umbilical cord. If the cord moves out of position, it could restrict the flow of oxygen to the baby’s brain. This condition, which is usually known as hypoxia, could cause cerebral palsy in as little as five minutes.

The duty of care is very high in medical malpractice and birth injury cases. Doctors have a fiduciary duty in these situations. They must do everything within their power to protect the health and safety of their patients. That “do no harm” bit in a doctor’s Hippocratic Oath is only the beginning. The legal duty of care in Kentucky is much, much higher.

As the old saying goes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Since the legal responsibility level is so high, it’s easier for a Lexington personal injury attorney to establish negligence, or a lack of care. Damages in a negligence case usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Fetal Macrosomia

This condition, which is also called LGA (large for gestational age), simply means a baby that is bigger than normal. About a quarter of the babies born in Lexington hospitals are macrosomic. The bigger the baby is, the higher the potential for injury becomes. Deliveries of infants larger than nine pounds, six ounces almost always involve some serious complications.

SD (Shoulder Dystocia) is one such complication. If the baby is too large to drift down the mother’s narrow birth canal, doctors often use dangerous medical interventions, like a vacuum extractor. Basically, a vacuum extractor is a metal cap attached to a vacuum hose. The doctor straps the cap on the baby’s head and turns on the suction. The resulting force is often more than enough to cause a permanent brain injury.

Umbilical cord prolapse could be an issue as well. If the baby is too large, the baby could literally tear the umbilical cord off the mother’s uterine wall. If that happens, teh cord could wrap itself around the baby’s neck. Unless the medical team closely monitors the baby for signs of fetal distress, this complication could occur without anyone noticing.

Cephalohematoma

Cephalo (the head) and hematoma (accumulation of blood) is blood that pools in the paper-thin area between a baby’s scalp and skull. This complication is rather common during difficult vaginal deliveries which put excess pressure on the baby’s head. Use of the aforementioned vacuum extractor pushes the cephalohematoma risk through the roof.

Within hours of delivery, the pooled blood solidifies. That could mean a tiny skull fracture or a permanent skull deformity. So, the baby could be at risk for a trauma head injury, especially when the baby starts crawling and bumping into things.

A cephalohematoma could have some other effects as well. For example, this hematoma draws blood away from the baby’s circulatory system. Anemia (low red blood cell count) is almost inevitable in these situations.

Cranial Compression

This infant birth injury simply means excess pressure on the baby’s head. We discussed vacuum extractors above. Although the vacuum extractor is arguably the most dangerous birth intervention, at least in terms of head injuries, it’s only one of them.

Forceps have been around a lot longer than vacuum extractors. The first reported use was in the 1600s. Medical technology has advanced considerably since that time. But the design and use of forceps is essentially unchanged.

As for the design, forceps are basically large surgical salad tongs. Usually, forceps are all metal. Even though a newborn’s head is incredibly delicate, the business end of a pair of forceps usually has no padding.

As for the use, the doctor grabs the baby’s head with the forceps and tries to literally pry the baby out of the mother. This maneuver obviously involves a great deal of force which is concentrated around the sides of the baby’s skull. That’s usually one of the weakest areas.

Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available. #goodelawyers