When parents hear the term birth injury they usually imagine something very obvious and there is validity to this line of thought. A baby with bruises or broken bones has sustained injuries that can often occur during delivery. However, there are also many types of birth injury that do not manifest in a measurable or distinct way for a long time afterward. In fact, some symptoms of birth injury may not reveal themselves until a child has developed and even as late as early school years.
Why such delays occur is due to the concealed ways that some birth injuries happen. A child who is briefly depleted of oxygen or who has sustained spinal or brain trauma may not show signs immediately upon birth. The baby may be in the hospital, go home, and not indicate any symptoms of a birth injury for days, weeks, months or even years. This is problematic for parents since there are statutes of limitations on making claims for damages.
There are some symptoms, though, that can be caught in almost all babies who have sustained birth injuries, but parents have to know just what to look for. Additionally, some symptoms can be related to other health problems and not birth injury. They are signs of something wrong, and must still be documented and reported to the doctor. These are common signs relating to birth and brain injury:
- Crying and arching the back, and excessive “fussiness”
- Very high-pitched crying
- Appearing breathless
- Drooling excessively
- Signs of difficulty with suckling, eating, and swallowing
- Sensitivity to light
Above are what experts call action symptoms, but there are also health related and physical symptoms that indicate something may be wrong. These would include documentable health problems like:
- Low heart rate
- No to low weight gain
- Vision problems
- Hearing loss
- Inflammation of sinuses
- Low oxygen levels
The physical symptoms often appear in combination with health and action symptoms and may feature:
- Muscular stiffness or laxity
- Poor reflexes
- Weak movement
- Limbs bent toward the body
- Hands held in claw-like poses
- Skull fracture
- Asymmetrical movement
These signs and symptoms are common in the days and weeks after a birth injury has been sustained, and they must be reported to a physician immediately. If there is a determination that a birth injury has occurred, it is imperative that parents get in touch with a birth injury lawyer immediately. This is to begin building a case and filing suit of medical malpractice. Waiting for further developments is unwise because, as indicated, the statute of limitations can run out.
However, the progress of the birth injury and its subsequent damages may be seen in symptoms that manifest during developmental stages. The absence of certain milestones is often seen as a sign of birth injury, and some common signs include:
- Problems with normal walking
- Poor motor skill development
- Problem solving difficulties
- Poor muscle control and/or coordination
- Problems with speech
- Intellectual disabilities
- Problems with daily tasks such as potty training and dressing
Developmental issues may also appear later in a child’s life and outside of their infancy or years as a toddler. School performance may demonstrate that a child has ADHD or autism due to birth injury, and parents may only have the funding to pay for the child’s special needs if they have pursued a birth injury claim years earlier.
It is important to monitor any child’s progress and to watch for signs of birth injury in order to ensure that no harm has been done and that the child can progress normally and healthily.