Reports Show Healthcare in America Lags for Babies
A recent Washington Post article reported some sobering news for parents of infants and babies in the U.S.: The country has the highest infant mortality rate as compared to the other 27 advanced nations studied by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A baby born in the U.S. is two to three times more likely to die during the first year when measured alongside nations that have the lowest rates of infant mortality. Considering that American health care spending levels are substantial, this phenomenon is an anomaly; however, the statistics alone are somewhat misleading. They don’t account for the differences of how countries report on miscarriage or stillbirth. Plus, the numbers don’t identify how medical errors during pregnancy and childbirth weigh into the overall totals of infant mortality.
Infant Healthcare is a Particular Problem
Proper medical care is essential for a fetus during pregnancy and childbirth, and for an infant’s first few months of life. Unfortunately, the statistics in the U.S. demonstrate that there are certain areas where healthcare is lacking:
- In the U.S., the infant mortality rate is 6.1 deaths per 1,000 live births.
- Within individual U.S. states, the numbers range from Mississippi’s highest rate of 9.62 deaths down to Alaska’s at 3.57. Pennsylvania ranks Number 12 on the list, with 7.23 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births.
- The numbers of post-neonatal deaths are also alarming. While the U.S. is on par with Finland and Austria for deaths occurring within the first day of an infant’s life, the gap widens considerably by the time the child reaches one year old.
- For every 1,000 babies born in the U.S., approximately seven will suffer a birth injury. The risk of a birth-related injury hovers at around 24-32 percent annually.
Preventable Medical Errors for Babies
Not all birth injuries are preventable, but there are many that occur due to mistakes made by physicians and other healthcare providers. The most common include:
- Brachial Palsy: When a doctor pulls too hard or incorrectly during delivery, the movement may damage the infant’s brachial plexus. This bundle of nerves is responsible for controlling the arms and hands, so injury can lead to paralysis or palsy.
- Facial Paralysis: Childbirth may require use of a medical device, such as a forceps, to assist the infant down the birth canal. This equipment may place too much pressure on the head, leading to damaged nerves in the face. A baby may lose sensation on the side of the face, or may be completely paralyzed in the region.
- Brain Injuries: Oxygen deprivation may occur during delivery and it can lead to a number of problems. Cerebral palsy, seizures, and other brain injuries are often the result of a physician’s failure to properly monitor the infant’s vital signs during and immediately after childbirth.
Legal Options for Parents After Birth Injuries to a Child
If you’re a parent of a child who was injured or died due to medical mistakes during pregnancy or childbirth, the law provides you with options to recover for your losses. Please contact the offices of Cohen, Placitella & Roth to schedule a free consultation where we can review your circumstances and answer questions about your case. Our Philadelphia birth injury attorneys have decades of experience in these types of cases, and we’re dedicated to fighting for the rights of victims.