One of the most common causes of developmental issues in children is a birth injury. Birth injuries may result from negligent medical professionals and can lead to lifelong developmental delays and disability. As a result, the injured child may require a lifetime of medical care, special education services, therapy, or other types of care that can be both expensive and difficult for everyone involved.
Developmental Delays After Infancy
As a child grows, noticeable delays in cognitive or physical development could indicate future difficulties throughout his or her life. For example, some children may not learn to walk or potty train as early as other children.
Early developmental delays could evolve into more serious challenges such as behavioral problems or learning disabilities. The child may have difficulty communicating and making friends with other schoolchildren. However, some children eventually outgrow these challenges and become more aligned with children of the same age. In other cases, children may experience issues that extend into adolescence and adulthood as a lifelong disability.
While developmental disabilities can be challenging for children and their families, there are resources available to help them overcome these challenges. Families have access to therapy, assistive technology, and other professionals and tools to facilitate functionality for a developmentally disabled child.
When Developmental Delays Result from Birth Injuries
Birth injuries resulting from negligence can often lead to serious debilitating developmental issues stemming from those injuries, making it important to detect them early on if medical malpractice is suspected.
Unfortunately, birth injuries aren’t always easy to detect at or immediately after birth, and it may not become apparent that children were injured at birth until they’ve grown older.
There are several birth injuries that may lead to lifelong developmental delays, including:
Traumatic Birth Injuries
Traumatic birth injuries may develop if excessive force is applied when delivering a child. This force could result from a number of complications including abnormal positioning of the fetus, shoulder dystocia, the misuse of vacuum extractors or forceps, or cephalopelvic disproportion.
The issues that may develop from traumatic birth injuries could include cerebral palsy and developmental delays, along with other physical or cognitive impairments.
Oxygen deprivation can result if blood flow is cut off to the brain or other parts of the body. This could lead to the development of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which is a serious type of brain injury. HIE could subsequently cause developmental disabilities, including cerebral palsy.
Some of the potential causes of oxygen deprivation before or during birth could include premature birth, issues involving the placenta, emergency or delayed C-sections, monitoring errors, strangulation or entanglement involving the umbilical cord, uterine rupture, the misuse of labor-enhancing drugs, or prolonged labor.
Infections Before or After Birth
Sometimes, infections may develop in the uterus through the mother, or an infant may develop an infection after birth. In either case, infections may cause developmental disabilities that affect a child’s life. Some of the possible infections that fetuses or infants may contract include neonatal meningitis, neonatal sepsis, herpes, chorioamnionitis, or Group B strep.
Detecting Developmental Issues in Young Children
While it can be difficult to identify developmental delays in younger children, there are some signs for parents to look for that may warrant notifying a pediatrician.
Some signs in infants under a year old may include:
- Not responding to surrounding sounds
- The inability to feed them properly
- Floppy or stiff limbs
- A lack of physical expressions, such as smiling in response to parents’ voices
- Inability to verbalize through squeals or laughing
Over the years, children may display other signs of disability, including the inability to walk or imbalanced walking, social withdrawal, and inarticulate speech. It’s important for parents to speak with a physician for further examination and diagnosis if anything seems unusual.
If birth injuries resulted in developmental delays, it may also be possible for parents to file a claim against negligent medical staff. Through a medical malpractice claim, families may be able to recover compensation for the damages, including the costs of therapy, lifelong treatment, and other expenses.