What Can I Do If My Baby Suffered From Birth Asphyxia in New Jersey?

birth injury

Newborn babies are born every minute in America. They are cute, innocent, and vulnerable. And unfortunately, many newborns die within minutes after birth due to medical errors.

In New Jersey, two-thirds of newborn deaths occur during the neonatal period according to NJSHAD. Although the rate of neonatal mortality in New Jersey has been declining, there are still disparities across the state as well as by maternal and infant characteristics.

Victims and their families can often hold negligent parties liable when medical malpractice causes birth injuries such as perinatal asphyxia by filing lawsuits with the help of an experienced birth injury lawyer.

What is Birth Asphyxia?

Perinatal asphyxia, also known as birth asphyxia or neonatal asphyxia, happens when a newborn is not given enough oxygen before, during, or soon after birth. "Asphyxia" simply refers to a lack of oxygen. Birth asphyxia can be caused by a multitude of factors, including insufficient blood flow or blood that is deficient in oxygen. Neonatal asphyxia and the grave problems that might ensue from it are sometimes caused by errors made by obstetricians and other medical personnel during labor and delivery.

A baby born with low oxygen levels may appear pale and limp. He or she may have trouble breathing and may have difficulty crying. While most babies born with low oxygen levels survive, some do not. Babies who do not survive often suffer brain damage, seizures, and other complications. 

How Does Birth Asphyxia Occur?

Neonatal asphyxia affects about four out of every 1,000 babies who are born at full term. It's possible that it's more common with premature babies. Perinatal asphyxia can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Delivery that is long or problematic
  • Insufficient oxygen in the mother's blood before or during birth causes the placenta to prematurely split from the uterus.
  • Problems with the umbilical cord
  • Infection that affects either the mother or the child
  • The mother's blood pressure is high (hypertension)
  • The mother's blood pressure is low (hypotension)
  • The oxygen-carrying capacity of the infant's blood cells is insufficient.
  • A baby's airway is obstructed by a blockage.

What Are Some Common Signs & Symptoms of Birth Asphyxia?

Birth asphyxia is a medical condition that occurs when there isn't enough oxygen available to the baby's brain after birth. The lack of oxygen causes brain damage and may lead to death.

There are many signs and symptoms of birth asphyxia. Some of these include:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Blue coloration of the skin
  • Lack of movement
  • Weakness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Yellowish discoloration of the skin
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pale appearance
  • Poor feeding
  • Seizures
  • Slow movements
  • Swollen face
  • Twitching
  • Waking up without crying
  • Weak cry
  • Weak sucking reflex

Does Birth Asphyxia Cause Cerebral Palsy?

Some experts believe that birth asphyxia may play a role in causing cerebral palsy.

Birth asphyxia refers to oxygen deprivation at birth. This happens when the baby does not receive adequate amounts of oxygen due to a lack of oxygen flow into the placenta.

Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition caused by damage to the developing brain. It affects movement and posture. There are many different types of cerebral palsy, each with its own symptoms and causes.

There are two main theories about what causes cerebral palsy: genetics and birth asphyxia.

According to the genetic theory, cerebral palsy is inherited. Some people think that cerebral palsy is passed down genetically from parents to offspring. However, there is no conclusive evidence that supports this theory.

The second theory states that birth asphyxia causes cerebral palsy. According to this theory, cerebral palsy results from a lack of oxygen at birth. When the baby receives too little oxygen at birth, he or she develops brain damage.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that babies born between 1980 and 1984 had an increased risk of cerebral palsy if their mothers experienced labor complications such as prolonged labor or premature rupture of membranes. These findings suggest that birth asphyxia could lead to cerebral palsy.

However, some studies have shown that children born before 1990 did not have an increased risk of cerebral paralysis. So, whether birth asphyxia causes cerebral palsy remains unclear.

How Can I Prove Negligence in Birth Injury Case?

Negligence is defined as “the failure to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances.”

In birth injury cases, negligence occurs when there is a breach of duty owed to the plaintiff. The duty may be owed to the mother or the baby. Breach of duty means that there was a failure to do something that a reasonably prudent person would have done under similar circumstances.

There are three types of negligence:

Active negligence

Active negligence involves doing something wrong. Active negligence is usually found where there is a violation of a statute or regulation. For example, a hospital could be negligent if it failed to provide adequate staffing or equipment.

Passive negligence

Passive negligence involves failing to act. Passive negligence is usually found where a defendant fails to warn about a dangerous condition. A doctor could be negligent if he did not tell his patient about a possible complication.

Strict liability

Strict liability does not involve any wrongdoing. Strict liability is found where there is no requirement to prove fault. This type of negligence is often found in products liability cases. 

Birth injuries are common. They happen every day. Birth injuries occur when there is negligence on behalf of the caregiver. Negligence occurs when a doctor fails to provide adequate care.

Medical negligence may include:

  • Failure to diagnose a condition that could lead to birth injury
  • Failure to treat a condition that could lead to a birth injury
  • Failure of a caregiver to recognize signs of a problem
  • Failure to inform parents about risks associated with labor and delivery
  • Failure to inform patients about complications that may arise after childbirth

Medical negligence can cause serious harm to newborn babies. A baby born without proper medical attention may suffer permanent damage. A baby born without proper medical assistance may experience:

  • Brain damage
  • Severe physical deformities
  • Death

Most times, medical negligence is preventable. Doctors should take precautions to avoid causing birth injuries.

Can You File A Malpractice Lawsuit For Newborn Asphyxia in New Jersey?

Medical malpractice lawsuits are filed against doctors and hospitals for wrongful death caused by medical mistakes. Too often, babies die because of medical negligence. In fact, between 1999 and 2010, there were over 2 million cases of newborn deaths in the United States. These deaths could have been prevented if proper care had been given.

It's estimated that one out of every six newborns dies within the first month of life. This number is unacceptable. When a doctor makes a mistake, he or she should be held accountable. Doctors and nurses must take responsibility for their actions. They must do everything possible to prevent these tragic deaths.
But sometimes, no matter what precautions are taken, something goes wrong.

That's why parents file a lawsuit against the hospital and doctor responsible for their child's death. Parents deserve justice. They deserve compensation for the pain and suffering they endure.

They deserve to see that the negligent party pays for his or her wrongdoing. The law allows parents to sue doctors and hospitals for wrongful deaths. These lawsuits are called medical malpractice lawsuits.

There are two types of medical malpractice lawsuits:

Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful death claims are brought by the families of deceased patients. These families suffer tremendous emotional trauma. Their lives are forever changed.

Survival Actions

Survival actions are brought by the patient himself or herself. The purpose of this type of lawsuit is to recover damages for the injuries sustained by the patient before he or she died.

For example, if a baby dies because of medical malpractice, then the baby's parents may bring a survival action against the doctor and hospital.

The parents want to recover money for the pain and suffering endured by their child. They want to recover money for future medical expenses. They want to receive compensation for the lost wages and income that would have come from their child's productive years. They want to be compensated for the grief and sorrow they feel.

How Can I Get Help With My Child's Medical Bills?

Getting paid for a birth injury lawsuit is possible. Many people who were injured in childbirth or parents of injured infants receive compensation by filing a lawsuit to recover financial compensation.

However, many people don't realize that they may be entitled to compensation for a birth injury. In fact, many states have laws that protect parents and babies from birth injuries.

However, there are still many cases where parents aren't compensated for a birth injury. This is because the parents didn't follow up on their rights after the baby was born.

Parents should always contact an attorney immediately after a birth injury occurs. The sooner they do this, the better chance they have of receiving compensation. An experienced birth injury lawyer can review their case and determine whether they are eligible for financial compensation. This compensation can be used to cover medical expenses, therapy, lost income, and pain and suffering.

How Long Do I Have to File a Pediatric Malpractice Claim in New Jersey?

Typically, the New Jersey law provides a three-year statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit against a health care provider for medical malpractice, including birth injuries like birth asphyxia. This means that if you were injured due to medical negligence after January 1, 2003, you must file your claim within three years of the incident.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if you were under 18 years old when the injury occurred, then you may still file a lawsuit up until two years after reaching the age of majority. In addition, if you were born with a disability, you may still file a claim for damages up until one year after the disability was discovered.

Pediatricians are required to report any suspected cases of neglect within 24 hours. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if the doctor suspects abuse or neglect based on information provided by another physician or health care provider, he or she must report the case immediately.

For example, the lawyer could argue that the doctor failed to properly examine the patient, failed to diagnose the condition correctly, or prescribed medication without proper testing.

If the parents win the lawsuit, they are awarded compensation for the damages they suffered. This compensation can include money for past and future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.

The parents' lawyers will also seek punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish doctors who behave negligently. Punitive damages are usually awarded in cases where the doctor acted maliciously or intentionally harmed the patient.

Fighting for Justice One Case at a Time

Intrauterine hypoxia and birth asphyxia are the tenth largest cause of infant death in the United States. According to a World Health Organization advisory from 2008, birth asphyxia kills 900,000 infants each year, making it the leading cause of death for newborns globally.

If you believe that your child has suffered from birth asphyxia, you may want to consider hiring an attorney to represent you in a medical malpractice lawsuit. An experienced attorney, like our team at Garden State Justice Group, can help gather the necessary evidence to prove the defendant's negligence caused the patient's injury or death. In some cases, this may involve showing that the patient would not have suffered had he or she received better treatment. Call today for a free consultation.

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Shane Sullivan, Esq.
Date Published: March 7, 2022
Shane Sullivan, Esq. is a New Jersey Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer that represents those who were injured or the family's of those killed by the negligence of others in personal injury lawsuits throughout New Jersey.
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