The birth of a child should be a happy time for the parents as well as their friends and relatives. However, premature deliveries can quickly turn what should be a happy time into a serious situation. Premature babies typically have low birth weight, which can carry potential future health consequences.
It is important to understand that low birth weight can impact a birth injury lawsuit in Maryland. Medical mistakes that would already carry serious consequences for any newborn could be especially devastating for premature babies.
What Is a Low Birth Weight?
Before you can evaluate whether low birth weight will impact a birth injury lawsuit, it is good to know what qualifies as a low birth weight. Typically, any infant under 5 pounds, 8 ounces is considered to be low birth weight. There are also distinctions within distinctions, as some low birth weight babies are at higher risk than others. While newborns under 5 pounds, 8 ounces are considered small, infants under 2 pounds, 3 ounces are considered to be at an extremely low birth weight.
The weight of a newborn can fluctuate, especially in the hours and days after their birth. For that reason, doctors typically consider a possible diagnosis of low birth weight within a few hours of delivery. Doctors will also take into account an infant’s size compared to their gestational age. The earlier a child is delivered, the less likely they are to reach the target weight of 5 pounds, 8 ounces.
Understanding How Birth Weight Impacts Birth Injuries
A low birth weight baby is far more likely to face medical complications during labor and delivery compared to an infant within the normal weight range. The organs of low birth weight babies are more likely to be underdeveloped, which can lead to a host of health conditions. These babies are also more likely to suffer an injury during childbirth.
The health consequences faced by a low birth weight baby extend beyond labor and delivery. In fact, these babies could face challenges in the weeks and months to follow. Some examples include challenges with gaining weight, feeding, and developing a strong immune system. Some of the most severe consequences that low birth weight babies can face following a negligent birth injury include:
- Bleeding in the brain
- Cerebral palsy
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Low oxygen
- Respiratory distress syndrome
While low birth weight can complicate any birth injury, the nature of a doctor’s mistake is also an important factor. Some errors are likely to cause severe health consequences no matter a child’s birth weight. An attorney from our firm could hold a doctor accountable for the mistakes they made.
Medical Mistakes Could Increase the Risks for Underweight Babies
There are times when premature labor is unavoidable. In these cases, it is not uncommon for a child to have low birth weight on the day they are born. A child’s low birth weight can increase the consequences that can occur when a doctor or other medical professional makes a mistake during the course of their care.
Low birth weight babies are typically more prone to injury or illness than larger, older babies. Premature babies often face traumatic births which can result in long-lasting trauma. Errors made by doctors can be devastating for any infant, but they are especially damaging for children with low birth weight.
In order to hold a doctor accountable for causing harm to a low birth weight baby, it is necessary to establish that they were negligent. This is possible by establishing four important factors. Each factor must be present for a case to be successful. First, a doctor must owe a patient a duty of care. This is not typically at issue when it comes to an infant and the doctor who delivered them.
The next step requires proof that the duty of care was breached by the doctor. There are different ways this could happen, including a failure by the doctor to carefully monitor the infant for fetal distress.
The final two factors are causation and damages. Causation is a link between the harm a newborn suffered and the careless acts of the doctor. Damages are the compensable losses the newborn suffered. These damages can be extensive when it comes to low birth weight babies.
Seek Compensation for Birth Injuries with the Help of an Attorney
If your newborn suffered injuries during childbirth, it is understandable to wonder if birth weight could impact your Maryland birth injury lawsuit. The answer is that low birth weight means a child is more likely to face serious health issues following a careless or reckless birth injury.
You do not have to wonder about how birth weight might impact your child’s legal case. The attorneys at Brown & Barron are ready to advise you based on their extensive experience in handling birth injury cases. Call right away for your free consultation.