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Complaint: Brain injuries caused by doctors during child's birth

There seems to be an increase in birth injury cases throughout the country. In New Mexico and elsewhere there have been some large settlements and also jury verdicts in cases with devastating brain injuries to the newborn caused by medical malpractice. In some cases, the injuries are associated with cerebral palsy, which signifies damage to the cerebrum part of the brain.

That is the motor control center of the brain, and damage there can cause lack of muscle control, spasticity and seizures. There can be damage to bodily organs and functions, such hearing or sight loss. Cerebral palsy and related syndromes are not generally inherited, and physicians look for some kind of birth trauma or other distinct cause for the brain damage.

A birth injury trial is now picking a jury in North Carolina. It involves some symptoms similar to cerebral palsy in that the boy, who is now over two-years old, has allegedly lost the use of some of his bodily parts. The plaintiffs will reportedly show that the boy will need intensive care for the rest of his life. In this case, a Caesarian procedure was ultimately used to make the delivery but the remaining details haven't been publicly reported. It is known that the mother spent about 18 hours in labor.

The complaint says essentially that the baby suffered a global brain dysfunction associated with "birth asphyxia." The child allegedly had no heart rate at delivery and had to be revived. The term asphyxia means oxygen deprivation or suffocation. Thus, the plaintiffs are claiming that there was a severe deprivation of oxygen to the brain during labor and immediately at the delivery.

In New Mexico, it is recognized that childbirth brain injuries can connote medical malpractice. Such negligence would have to show a failure of the doctors to perform in a minimally competent manner recognized by their obstetrical peers in the community. This is generally proved by experts in the field who go over the testimony and the medical records, and give an opinion as to whether the doctor's treatment fell below the required standard.

Source:, Jury selection begins in medical malpractice case, Michael D. Abernathy, Jan. 13, 2014

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