With its sprawling landscapes, wildlife encounters and opportunities for outdoor activities like fishing, hiking and skiing, it’s no wonder that many families find Alaska to be a perfect playground for fostering growth, creativity and togetherness. Whether it’s the allure of the Northern Lights in Fairbanks, the salmon runs in Anchorage, or the breathtaking fjords in the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska provides an unparalleled backdrop for family life.
But even in a place as idyllic as Alaska, with excellent health care facilities that are more than equipped to handle childbirth, unfortunate incidents like birth injuries still occur. These injuries can be emotionally and financially devastating for families, leaving parents scrambling to figure out how to get their children the help they need to grow and thrive.
If you find yourself facing the heart-wrenching ordeal of a birth injury, please know that you don’t have to navigate this process alone. At Brown Trial Firm, Alaska birth injury attorney Laura Brown has extensive experience in handling birth injury cases, helping families navigate the legal process to get the compensation their child deserves.
If you’re concerned that your child’s birth injury
was caused by a medical mistake,
don’t wait to get the answers and help you need.
Contact Brown Trial Firm today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options.
Alaska birth rate and injury statistics
According to the Alaska Vital Statistics 2021 Annual Report, there were 9,410 babies born in Alaska in 2021. That number has been declining every year since 2017, at which time there were 10,452 births.
Of the mothers that gave birth in 2021, about 64% (6,056) received prenatal care that was classified as “adequate or higher,” with only 1% of Alaskan mothers receiving no prenatal care. These numbers have remained essentially unchanged in Alaska since 2017.
The majority of babies delivered in 2021 (94%) had a cephalic presentation (head pointed down and toward the birth canal), which is the ideal position for delivery. Approximately 24% of Alaskan babies, or 1 in 4, were delivered by cesarean section (C-section).
Tragically, between 2019 and 2021, there were 171 infant deaths (a mortality rate of 6 per 1,000 live births) and 165 fetal deaths (a mortality rate of 5.7 per 1,000 live births and fetal deaths). Additionally, about 1% of babies suffered a reported birth injury between 2017 and 2021.
What is a birth injury?
A birth injury refers to any form of harm or injury sustained by an infant during the process of childbirth. These injuries can vary in severity, ranging from minor abrasions and bruises to more severe complications like fractures or nerve damage. In some cases, birth injuries may result in long-term health issues or even permanent disabilities.
One thing that’s important for parents to understand is that birth injuries don’t just occur during delivery. They can actually occur at various stages, including before a baby is even born.
Some birth injuries are a result of medical negligence during prenatal care.
If a health care provider fails to diagnose or properly manage conditions like gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, infections, or placental issues (just to name a few), they can lead to injuries even before the baby is born.
In the immediate postnatal period, babies are still vulnerable to birth injuries.
Medical negligence during this stage can result in injuries from incorrect diagnosis or delayed treatment for conditions like jaundice or respiratory distress.
Identifying the cause of a birth injury is crucial for understanding your legal options. If you believe that your child has suffered a birth injury due to medical negligence, it’s essential to consult a specialized birth injury attorney who can help you understand your legal options.
Is a birth injury the same as a birth trauma?
While the terms “birth injury” and “birth trauma” are closely related, they’re not exactly the same thing.
- Birth injury is a broader term that encompasses any harm or damage sustained by a newborn before, during, or shortly after birth. It can be caused by various factors, including medical negligence and natural complications.
- Birth trauma, on the other hand, specifically refers to physical injuries that occur during the actual process of childbirth, often resulting from mechanical forces like compression, twisting or pulling the baby during delivery.
While birth injuries can include neurological and developmental issues, birth trauma is generally associated with physical injuries such as fractures, lacerations and nerve damage. Essentially, birth trauma is a subset of birth injuries focused on physical harm occurring during delivery. So, while all birth traumas are birth injuries, not all birth injuries are birth traumas.
Is your baby suffering from one of these common birth injuries?
While most deliveries go smoothly, there are instances where complications lead to injuries that require immediate and sometimes long-term medical attention. Below are some of the most common birth injuries:
- Cerebral palsy (CP). Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that impacts muscle movement and coordination. It’s often due to a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain during labor or delivery or other traumatic events that impact the brain before, during, or shortly after birth. The condition can result in a range of physical disabilities and developmental delays, making it a life-long challenge for the affected individual and their family.
- Brachial plexus injuries (Erb’s palsy). These injuries occur when the network of nerves controlling the arm muscles, known as the brachial plexus, is damaged. This often happens due to excessive force during delivery and can result in partial or complete paralysis of the arm.
- Fractures. Bone fractures, most commonly of the collarbone or clavicle, can happen during a difficult labor or delivery. These usually heal well with proper medical care but can be painful for the newborn.
- Cephalohematoma. This is the accumulation of blood between a newborn’s skull and the periosteum (membrane covering the bones). It usually appears several hours after birth as a bump on the baby’s head.
- Caput succedaneum. This refers to the swelling of the soft tissues on the baby’s head, often caused by the pressure exerted during passage through the birth canal. It usually resolves on its own within a few days.
- Facial nerve injuries. Facial nerve injuries like Bell’s palsy can occur when there is excessive pressure on the baby’s face during delivery or through the use of forceps. It can result in facial paralysis, although this is often temporary.
- Intracranial hemorrhage. This is a severe birth injury that involves bleeding inside the baby’s brain. It’s most often caused by a traumatic delivery and requires immediate medical attention.
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). This is a brain injury resulting from a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the baby’s brain around the time of birth. It can have serious long-term effects, including cerebral palsy and cognitive impairments.
- Meconium aspiration syndrome. This occurs when a newborn inhales a mixture of meconium (the baby’s first stool) and amniotic fluid, leading to respiratory issues. It can be severe but is usually treatable with immediate medical care.
- Kernicterus. This is a severe form of jaundice that occurs in newborns, leading to permanent brain damage. It is caused by excessively high levels of bilirubin in the blood, which can result in irreversible neurological issues, including hearing loss, intellectual disabilities, and movement disorders.
While these injuries are not always preventable, they’re often the result of a medical mistake. In such cases, families may be entitled to significant compensation to cover the costs of their child’s ongoing medical care, physical and occupational therapy, assistive devices and other needs.
What are the long-term effects of birth injuries?
The long-term effects of birth injuries can vary widely, depending on the type and severity of the injury. Some common long-term effects include cognitive impairments, physical disabilities, developmental delays, and emotional or psychological issues.
In more severe cases, birth injuries can lead to permanent disabilities such as cerebral palsy, HIE or kernicterus, which can require lifelong medical care and assistance. Additionally, families may face emotional and financial burdens as they adapt to the special needs and medical requirements of the affected child.
What are the birth injuries due to negligence?
Birth injuries due to medical negligence occur when health care providers fail to meet the established “standard of care” expected in medical practice, resulting in harm to the baby or mother.
The standard of care refers to what a reasonably competent health care provider would do in similar circumstances, taking into account the patient’s medical condition, the medical knowledge available, and the resources at hand.
Medical negligence can occur before birth if a health care professional fails to provide adequate prenatal care or properly diagnose or treat a medical condition in the mother or fetus. It can also occur during labor and delivery or shortly after birth if the health care provider makes mistakes that injure the baby or fails to respond appropriately to signs of distress.
How do I know if my baby’s birth injury was caused by a medical mistake?
Determining whether a health care provider made a mistake that led to your child’s birth injury can be quite challenging.
First of all, most parents aren’t medical experts, so they may not fully understand the intricacies of labor and delivery procedures. Additionally, the emotional stress surrounding a birth injury and inherent trust in health care professionals can make it difficult to question the actions taken during the birth process.
However, there are certain red flags that could indicate a birth injury is the result of medical negligence. Below are some of the key factors to look out for:
- Unexplained injuries. If your newborn has fractures, bruising or marks that are not consistent with a normal delivery, it could be a sign of mishandling or improper use of birth-assisting tools.
- Delayed medical interventions. If health care providers are slow to respond to signs of fetal distress, meconium in the amniotic fluid, or other complications that warrant prompt intervention, such as a C-section, it may indicate negligence.
- Lack of monitoring. Failure to adequately monitor the vital signs of both the mother and the baby before, during and after labor can be a sign of substandard care.
- Inadequate communication. If the health care team doesn’t communicate effectively amongst themselves or with you about important issues, such as the baby’s positioning or signs of distress, this can be indicative of negligence.
- Signs of oxygen deprivation. Conditions like hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) or cerebral palsy often result from a lack of oxygen during birth, which may be due to delayed medical intervention or failure to monitor.
- Refusal to answer questions. If health care providers avoid or are unable to answer questions about your care or the care of your newborn, it might be a sign that something went wrong.
- Contradictory medical records. If there are discrepancies or omissions in the medical records concerning what treatments were given or the baby’s condition, it may suggest that mistakes were covered up.
- Severe or long-lasting health issues. If your child requires extensive medical treatment following birth, such as resuscitation, a stay in the NICU, or long-term therapy for conditions like cerebral palsy, it may point toward a birth injury caused by negligence.
Alaska birth injury attorney Laura Brown
has successfully fought for families
to get results like these:
Cerebral palsy birth injury
Our client’s infant was diagnosed with cerebral palsy caused by misuse of Pitocin, delayed Cesarean section delivery, improper use of a vacuum extractor, and improper maneuvers during a shoulder dystocia. We secured a successful recovery for our client and our fee was paid out of the gross settlement amount, meaning the client was able to secure our legal assistance without any out-of-pocket expense.
Contact Brown Trial Firm today to learn how to recover maximum compensation for your child.
If you encounter any of these red flags, consult an experienced birth injury attorney who can evaluate your medical records and consult with medical experts to determine whether medical negligence was involved in your child’s birth injury.
What types of compensation is my child entitled to after a birth injury caused by negligence?
In cases of birth injuries caused by medical negligence, compensation can vary based on the severity of the injury, the degree of negligence, and the jurisdiction where the lawsuit is filed. However, generally speaking, families may be eligible for compensation that covers medical expenses for ongoing care, physical therapy, and specialized equipment.
Compensation may also cover non-economic damages like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, as well as future costs, such as a loss of earning capacity for the injured child. Parents may also seek compensation for lost wages if caring for their injured child requires them to quit working or miss work.
Get help and free advice from an experienced Alaska birth injury attorney
At Brown Trial Firm, we understand that grappling with a birth injury can be an incredibly emotional and overwhelming experience, especially when you suspect that negligence may have played a role. You’re not just dealing with the immediate medical needs of your child; you’re also concerned about their future well-being and how this could impact your family for years to come.
If your family is facing this difficult situation, it’s crucial to consult with a skilled birth injury attorney who can guide you through this complex process and ensure your child gets the compensation they need and deserve to live their life to the fullest.
With a history of successfully holding medical practitioners accountable for birth injuries, experienced Alaska birth injury attorney Laura Brown provides families with both the legal knowledge and empathetic guidance they need to safeguard their children’s futures.
Contact her office today for a free consultation to learn more about your legal options for financial recovery.
Alaska Attorney, facing a birth injury case and needing specialized expertise?
At Brown Trial Firm, Laura Brown is renowned for her profound expertise in birth injury cases, with a history of triumphs not just in Texas but across the nation. Recognizing the unique challenges of birth injury litigation, Laura and her dedicated team provide unmatched representation tailored to these sensitive cases.
When you choose to collaborate with Brown Trial Firm, you’re not simply gaining a co-counsel; you’re partnering with a seasoned birth injury expert, equipped with access to premier medical consultants and a steadfast commitment to achieving justice for the affected families.
Ensure clients receive the highest level of representation and optimize their chances for a successful outcome.
Partner with Laura Brown today.