Understanding the Birth Injury Symptoms and Signs
If not identified and quickly treated, most birth injuries can and will lead to serious and permanent problems, including permanent paralysis or disability, as well as physical disfigurement. That’s why it’s important to catch birth injury symptoms early, which can be difficult, as your baby cannot voice their pain or discomfort to you.
Fortunately, some birth injury symptoms can be identified within the first few hours or days of a baby’s life, though others will not be identifiable for several weeks, months, or years. If you are concerned that your baby has suffered a birth injury, you should know the birth injury symptoms to look out for and when they may become apparent.
Symptoms Associated with a Baby’s Actions and Health
Some birth injury symptoms can be seen by observing a baby’s actions, and many of these can be identified while the baby is still in the hospital. This include but are not limited to:
- Drooling excessively
- Difficulty breathing, eating, sucking, or swallowing
- Sensitivity to light
- High-pitched crying or grunting
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Arched back when crying
In addition to certain actions, you should also look out for symptoms related to your baby’s health. These may include:
- Hyper- or hypotension
- Changes in heart rate
- Changes in vision
- Decreased oxygen levels in the blood
- Difficulty gaining weight
- Persistent cough and/or wheezing
- Pale or waxy appearance to the skin
Examine your baby for muscle and bone injuries, as well. You’ll want to watch for spasms, limbs bent toward or away from the body, one or both hands curled into a claw, weak movements, and other birth injury symptoms that indicate broken bones or injured muscles or nerves.
Of course some birth injury symptoms will not appear immediately. Some may take months or years to develop, which is why you should continue to keep an eye on your child for birth injury symptoms for at least the first five years of their life.
Symptoms to Look for in the First Two Years
Though the birth injury may happen during childbirth, it may not actually develop symptoms for several months. Some of the most common symptoms to look for in the first two years include:
- Difficulty walking
- Delay in development of fine motor skills
- Loss of full movement in one or more body parts (known medically as ataxia)
- Mental disabilities
- Difficulty developing problem-solving skills
- Lack of control of muscles
- Weakness in one or both arms or hands
- Difficulties with speech
- Potty training problems
- Problems grasping spoons or other utensils
If you notice one or more of these symptoms, then your child may have suffered a birth injury, and it’s of the utmost importance that you seek medical attention immediately. Many birth injuries can be treated if they are caught early enough, but they must be identified and treated as soon as possible in order to hope for the best results.
Whether or not a pediatrician or specialist is able to help your child, it’s important to know that you may have legal recourse if your child suffered a birth injury before, during, or just after your labor. Your doctor or the hospital in which you had your baby may be responsible for this injury and for potentially permanent disabilities or disfigurements to your child, and they should be held responsible.
Watch for Developmental Milestones
As you look for birth injury symptoms, be sure to watch out for normal developmental milestones. For example, between the ages of two and four months, your baby should be turning their head when they hear noises, and they should be cooing and smiling, as well as following people with their eyes and starting to recognize and differentiate faces.
Soon after this, they should be able to bring objects to their mouth on their own, and by one years old, they should be able to understand simple instructions and begin to speak words.
If your child has exhibited any of the symptoms we’ve discussed here and/or they are not on track with their development, they may be displaying signs of a birth injury. Get medical attention immediately, and then contact us to discuss your case.