Brain Damage Resulting in Cerebral Palsy Due to a Delayed C-Section

C-sections exist to address the circumstances stemming from a difficult delivery. Through careful monitoring of the mother and baby, medical professionals determine if and when emergency C-sections may be necessary. When a C-section is not ordered or performed in a timely manner, the baby can suffer a brain injury resulting in Cerebral Palsy.

Childbirth Complications Potentially Requiring a C-Section

These things can lead to brain injury by way of oxygen deprivation to the baby’s brain. The fetal brain depends upon a continuous supply of blood containing oxygen (through the umbilical cord, the uterus and the placenta) in order to survive and thrive. When that oxygen supply is compromised, damage can occur. These things can often be avoided or addressed with a C-section, if timely ordered and performed:

  • Abnormal body position. Abnormal body positions within the womb, such as breech births, increase the risk of oxygen deprivation to the baby’s brain. If medical professionals do not order a C-section in response to an abnormal presentation, then your labor can be prolonged, a condition known as “failure to progress.” Failure to progress increases the risk of oxygen deprivation to the baby. A baby who is turned the wrong way during labor may also compress the umbilical cord or the umbilical cord may wrap around the baby’s neck, which are both situations that can lead to oxygen deprivation and resultant brain injury.
  • Prolapsed umbilical cord. The umbilical cord is supposed to exit the mother’s body after the baby. When the umbilical cord precedes the baby, it can become compressed by the baby’s body. This compression can be so pronounced that it cuts off the supply of oxygen-rich blood from mother to child. The baby’s brain can be severely injured as a result. Umbilical cord problems like prolapse most often necessitate a C-section.
  • Nuchal cord. A nuchal cord describes the situation in which the umbilical cord wraps around the baby’s neck. In this configuration, the cord itself may become compressed, or the cord may compress blood vessels in the neck, both of which can deprive oxygen to the brain.
  • Placental abruption. The placenta supplies the baby with oxygen-rich blood. When the placenta prematurely separates from the uterus, the baby may be cut off from this vital oxygen source. A total placental abruption often necessitates an emergency C-section.
  • Uterine rupture. A tear in the uterine wall during labor is a serious complication. A rupture can cause the mother to lose a lot of blood, which is not only a danger to herself, but can also deprive the baby of oxygenated blood.
  • Cephalopelvic disproportion. A condition in which the baby or the baby’s head is too large to safely pass through the birth canal, cephalopelvic disproportion is a high-risk delivery situation for a few reasons, including prolonged labor that can lead to brain injury from reduced oxygenated blood. CPD can also require medical professionals to employ forceps or vacuums during the vaginal delivery, and these tools increase the risk of injury to the baby’s head and brain.
  • Difficult vaginal delivery. If a difficult vaginal delivery is opted for instead of a timely C-section, the use of vacuum extractors or forceps may be necessary. Although these tools are often used without problem, in other cases they cause serious brain injury to the baby. In certain cases, these implements have caused bleeding within the brain, which can lead to lasting physical and mental impairment.

A C-section certainly will not be the right answer every time, in each scenario listed below; however, medical professionals have a duty to closely monitor the fetus and the mother for signs of distress and problems. They must be equipped to respond with a C-section as soon as the situation calls for it. Any delay can result in oxygen deprivation, brain injury and an eventual diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy. In fact, under certain circumstances, and emergency C-section must be performed in as little as fifteen (15) minutes.

How a Delayed C-Section Can Lead to HIE Brain Injury

Failure to perform a timely C-section can cause hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. HIE occurs when the baby’s brain is oxygen deprived. This lack of oxygen causes death of brain cells in certain parts of the brain. Cerebral Palsy symptoms and other issues can result from HIE, which can be caused by many of the complications listed above, such as:

  • Prolapsed, compressed or nuchal umbilical cord
  • Abnormal positioning of the baby during labor and delivery
  • Cephalopelvic disproportion

In many situations, medical professionals can prevent HIE by responding to birth complications in a timely and appropriate manner, possibly including ordering a C-section to avoid a difficult and dangerous vaginal birth.

These are just some of the ways failure to perform a necessary C-section can lead to brain injury and HIE. An experienced Cerebral Palsy brain injury attorney can determine whether your child’s brain injury could have been prevented by a C-section. To better understand how the injury was caused, a Medical Legal Review is necessary. If this investigation reveals that your child’s brain injury could have been avoided with proper medical care, you may be eligible for Lifetime Benefits to help you and your child live with the injury. To request a Medical Legal Review, please call the experienced lawyers Stern Law, PLLC at (800) 462-5772, or contact us online.

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