The Lasting Effects of a Birth Injury

Six to eight out of every 1,000 newborns experience a birth injury. Common forms of birth injuries include brachial palsy, bruising or forceps marks, cerebral palsy, facial paralysis, and Erb’s palsy.

The effects of the injury can be lasting for the family. Some of the ways families remain affected for years to come by a birth injury to their newborn include:

The emotional toll: A birth injury can impact the mental health of parents. For example, it can cause post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or anxiety in mothers and interrupt their lactation period and even affect their bonding experience with their newborn. Many of these parents will need to get ongoing mental health support to move past the injury and fully engage with the baby and the rest of their family.

The financial burden: Several birth injuries require additional and ongoing medical care for your child. Children with cerebral palsy, for example, require lifetime care that could cost families more than $1 million, according to estimates in 2003 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To help cover the cost of these financial burdens, many families will pursue legal action against their physician or care provider for malpractice. Learn more here.

The need for ongoing assistance: Newborns with a birth injury such as cerebral palsy will require ongoing assistance for most of their lives. This includes help in school and employment assistance.

The sibling effect: The brothers and sisters of children born with an injury are not immune from side effects. These brothers and sisters might feel isolated from their parents who will need to provide extra care to their injured sibling, they might be bullied at school or by their peers for having a sibling with a disability, or they might feel frustrated because no one understands their feelings about the situation.

The strain on marriage: The emotional toll of a birth injury can impact a marriage, especially if the wife or husband blames the other for the injury. At the same time, husbands and wives often have to spend a lot of time caring for their newborn with a birth injury — and the rest of the children — to the detriment of their relationship.

A birth injury can be a scary and life-altering thing for any family. It is important to take the steps necessary to ensure you, your spouse, and all of your children are taken care of mentally, physically, and financially for the long term.