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Undestanding birth injuries

Many families in New Mexico suffer when complications during pregnancy or childbirth cause injuries to babies. Birth injuries often occur due to incidents during prenatal care or a physician's failure to properly respond to or assess the patient's condition. A doctor may fail to diagnose a disorder, improperly use a medical device, perform a medical operation improperly or fail to competently asses the infant's state of health.

Statistics indicate that five in every 1,000 newborn babes in the United States suffer injuries during childbirth. Injuries that occur during pregnancy or childbirth can be caused by anything from severe head injuries to a lack of oxygen. A lawsuit stemming from such incidents would typically be filed as a medical malpractice case against the attending physician and other health care professionals who provided treatment, including the hospital in which the pregnant mother received care. However, not every birth injury warrants a legal claim since some complications are unavoidable for even the most competent physicians.

Some injuries occur even before childbirth because of issues that occurred during pregnancy. In fact, 7 percent of infants are born with an irregularity or what can be called a defect, according to estimates. In some cases, these irregularities occur because of genetics, and others are caused by environmental factors, such as alcohol or drug use. However, there is a class of drugs called teratogens, many of which were developed to aid pregnancy, that doctors might prescribe. These chemicals are known to cause birth defects.

If a medical malpractice claim stemming from a birth injury is successful, the award will sometimes be put into a trust for the baby's use. Parents may also seek an award for themselves by proving their own emotional distress resulting from the injury. Parents whose children have suffered birth injuries from medical errors do have a deadline in which they may file their claims.

Source: Findlaw, "Birth Injury Overview", July 17, 2014

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