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Birth Injury


It never ceases to amaze and disappoint us how poorly doctors and hospital‑staff communicate with patients, especially after an unexpected and tragic event like a severe birth injury. Many of our clients came to us for help because they were not getting straight answers, and in some cases no answers at all. We understand your frustration in simply wanting to know whether your baby’s injury was caused by a preventable mistake (i.e., medical malpractice) or by one of life’s natural results. We successfully answer that question for many parents, and will answer it for you, too.



Perhaps one of these birth injuries or birth traumas is familiar to you If you or someone close to you suffered a difficult labor and delivery resulting in injury to your newborn child, it is important to act quickly to preserve evidence.  The only way to determine whether injury was avoidable is to have prenatal, delivery, and newborn medical care reviewed by professionals who understand the complex medicine between mother and fetus during gestation, stresses the infant undergoes during birth, effects of those stresses, adjusting to life outside the womb, and responses to stresses and factors of the environment.  At Buchanan & Buchanan, our combined legal-medical team has decades of experience handling medical malpractice cases, including cases involving birth injury and birth trauma. We have experienced medical professionals on staff to talk with you and review your claim. We quickly and efficiently assess the medical facts and take immediate action to protect your child’s rights and when malpractice is found, fight to secure fair and just compensation for the harms and losses.



For every 1,000 babies born in the United States, six will suffer a birth injury or birth trauma.  That amounts to approximately 2 million birth injuries each year in the United States.  Some injuries resolve quickly or are easily treatable, while other birth injuries are more serious and can result in developmental delays or neurological deficiencies that can be life-altering.  Carrying and delivering a baby is a delicate process and complications can occur from a number of factors.  Though there are many possible causes of birth injury, the following are some more common identifiable causes or contributing factors:

During Pregnancy:

  • Specific infections may occur for the first time during pregnancy, including toxoplasmosis, rubella, cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes simplex, or untreated Group-B Strep
  • Placental abnormalities may occur, including placental insufficiency or premature aging of the placenta during pregnancy, or premature or sudden separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus (placental abruption). Insufficient placental nourishment can cause intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) of the baby during pregnancy
  • Severe malnutrition of the mother
  • Frequent use of certain prescription or non-prescription drugs
  • Exposure to certain toxic chemicals or other harmful environmental hazards
  • Mother’s untreated high blood pressure, preeclampsia, eclampsia, toxemia, or diabetes
  • Effects of certain genetic defects or syndromes

During the Birth Process:

  • Corrected umbilical cord compression, prolapse, or occlusion
  • Corrected fetal distress compression of the umbilical cord
  • Dystocia, where the baby is stuck in the birth canal too long because of baby size or position
  • Damage to the placenta by the birth process, placenta previa or placental abruption

During the Newborn Period:

  • Problems because of prematurity, including problems with heart, blood pressure, circulation, breathing, stooling (meconium), inhaling liquids into the lungs (aspiration), nutrition, hydration, temperature, infection, jaundice, or bleeding
  • Hereditary conditions that interfere with the baby’s digestion
  • Untreated seizures

Common Medical Mistakes that Cause Severe Injury to Babies

It is important to realize that birth injury occurs even without malpractice, under the best possible medical care, where there was nothing that should have or could have been done by the health care providers to avoid injury.  Unfortunately, some birth injuries are a result of errors by healthcare professionals.  In many cases a birth injury could have been prevented all together (or it may have been made considerably less severe) if timely and appropriate intervention by health care providers had occurred.  Common mistakes by healthcare professionals that result in birth injury or are contributing factors to the severity of injuries include, without limitation:

  • Improper use of labor stimulating medicine (i.e., Pitocin and Cytotec)
  • Improper interpretation of fetal monitor strips (the monitor of the baby’s heart while in the womb)
  • Excessive or improper use of force during delivery
  • Misuse of forceps during delivery
  • Misuse of a vacuum extractor during delivery
  • A nurse or nurse midwife not timely seeking assistance from a physician
  • Not properly responding to fetal distress
  • Not appropriately responding to abnormal bleeding
  • Delay in performing a cesarean section before injury occurs
  • Not responding to umbilical cord entrapment
  • Not properly intubating a newborn requiring oxygen
  • Improperly resuscitating the baby
  • Not recognizing or treating newborn conditions (i.e., high or low blood sugar, blood loss, jaundice, and bilirubin levels)

When birth injury or birth trauma occurs, unfortunately there is risk of long-term, permanent, and life-changing medical issues for the baby.  In severe cases, the child will experience developmental disorders, brain damage, or nerve damage.  Some common, serious, and long-term medical issues that result from birth injury or birth trauma include:

  • Cerebral palsy (a neurological disorder) which can permanently affect body movement and muscle coordination
  • Brain injury
  • Brachial plexus injury (an injury to the nerves which run from you neck to fingers) which causes arm paralysis
  • Bone fractures – when not treated properly can result in long-term effects on range of motion
  • Spinal cord injuries and cranial nerve injury
  • Laryngeal nerve injury
  • Intraabdominal injury
  • Group-B Strep disease
  • Soft tissue injury including bleeding (e.g., cephalhematoma, subgaleal hematoma), caput succedaneum, abrasions and lacerations, subcutaneous fat necrosis

Other Medical Malpractice Focus Areas

Buchanan & Buchanan, P.L.C.
171 Monroe Ave. N.W. Suite 750
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
voice: (616) 458.2464
toll free: 1-800-272-4080
fax: (616) 458.0608
email: mail@buchananfirm.com