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Can Families Get Compensation for Birth Injuries That Show Up Later in Life?

When many people think of birth injuries, they think of injuries that are immediately apparent because they result in hospitalization or even death. These injuries can be caused by the misuse of forceps and vacuum extractors during delivery, C-section mistakes, and oxygen deprivation. 

But not all birth injuries are immediately obvious. Sometimes, birth injuries don’t show up until days or weeks after delivery. And in other cases, birth injuries aren’t detected until children begin to experience developmental delays years later. That means that families may take their babies home not realizing that they were severely injured by negligent doctors and other providers.

What Does the Law Say About Birth Injury Deadlines?

Oklahoma’s statute of limitations for birth injury claims is seven years from the date they occurred or from the date that parents should have known that they occurred. Many birth injuries are diagnosed at the hospital or birthing center before parents take their babies home. But some aren’t, which means the clock doesn’t start running on those claims until they’re diagnosed. However, if you are unsure when the clock started ticking on your claim, contact one of our experienced Oklahoma birth injury lawyers for a free consultation.

What Birth Injuries Have Delayed Diagnoses?

Here are a few common types of birth injuries that may take several months or even years to become obvious and diagnosable.

Nerve Injuries

The most common nerve injuries during delivery are those that affect the brachial plexus nerves. Babies who suffer these injuries may have difficulty controlling and feeling their arms. Brachial plexus injuries are common when doctors use too much force to pull babies through the birth canal, especially when the infants are a high percentile weight and length or are in a breech position.

Parents may begin to notice signs of nerve injuries, including Erb’s palsy, early in their children’s lives. They may hold one arm awkwardly against their body, or they may not demonstrate the Moro reflex, which is a sudden movement of their arms when they are startled.

Oxygen Deprivation Injuries

One of the biggest risk factors babies face during delivery is a lack of oxygen. A common cause of oxygen deprivation is the umbilical cord being wrapped around a baby’s neck too tightly. Another common cause is when a baby’s shoulders become stuck in the birth canal during delivery, which can reduce blood flow and oxygen supply to the baby’s brain. Oxygen deprivation often causes permanent, irreparable injuries.

Oxygen deprivation is one of the most common causes of cerebral palsy, which can have a wide range of effects on babies who develop it. While some babies may grow up to have only mild symptoms, others may be severely disabled. As with nerve injuries, the symptoms of cerebral palsy may take time to show up, and some parents may not realize their children are affected until they begin to walk.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can occur either directly or indirectly. They can happen when doctors use too much force when trying to deliver babies via forceps or vacuums. TBIs can also happen due to oxygen deprivation in utero. However, the risk factors for this should be identified and treated by doctors, and that doesn’t always happen.

In rare cases, babies can even develop brain damage from being dropped or handled too roughly just after delivery. Shaken baby syndrome can occur with only small amounts of force, and it can sometimes happen unintentionally, even in hospitals. When babies develop TBIs, the symptoms may be immediately noticeable, or they may take several months to years to show up.

Don’t Wait to File a Birth Injury Claim

Although the statute of limitations for birth injury claims is long in Oklahoma, you should contact a lawyer as soon as your child has been diagnosed with a birth injury. If you wait too long, it can be more difficult to prove that your child’s health problems are related to a healthcare provider’s negligence. You may even have difficulty tracking down the doctor, midwife, or other provider who caused the birth injury.

At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, our Oklahoma City medical malpractice attorneys are ready to help your family get the compensation you’re owed for a birth injury that was caused by negligence. Contact us today for a free consultation. We know what you’re going through, and we’ll work hard to get you the money you need.