Few things match the heartbreak of birth injury. Out of about 4 million children born each year in the U.S., about 27,000 will suffer some kind of birth injury. That’s a rate of 0.675 percent, but it is a very real tragedy for each family affected by a birth injury.
Children born with birth injuries like Cerebral Palsy, a Brachial Plexus injury (Erb’s Palsy or Klumpke’s Palsy) or shoulder dystocia, face a lifetime of medical bills and disabilities that usually translate into higher education costs and lower earnings.
US Birth Injury Statistics
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the birth rate in America has declined each year for the past several years. The overall birth rate, general fertility rate (births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 years), total fertility rate (estimated number of births over a woman’s lifetime), and births among teenagers all declined from 2009 to 2010 and from 2008 to 2009.
The CDC says that in 2010 there were:
- 3,999,386 children born, 3 percent fewer than in 2009
- 64.1 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 years old, down 3 percent from 2009 (66.2)
- 1,931 births per 1,000 women in 2010, a 4 percent decline from 2009 (2,002)
- 34.2 births per 1,000 teenagers (age 15 to 19), the lowest rate of teen-age births in the U.S. in 70 years
- 11.99 percent of births were preterm births (less than 37 weeks), a rate that has declined for four years.
- 8.15 percent of all children born had low birth weight (less than 2,500 grams, or 88.185 ounces – 5.5 pounds). This rate was unchanged from 2009 but down somewhat from a rate of 8.26 percent in 2006.
Not all births result in a healthy baby. The CDC also says:
- About one in every 33 babies (about 3 percent) is born with a birth defect.
- More than 20 percent of all infant deaths are caused by birth defects.
Birth defects and birth injuries are not the same thing. Birth defects are acts of nature that, in many cases, cannot be prevented. In other cases, the mother’s health or habits – smoking, alcohol and drug use, for example – may contribute to birth defects.
Common birth defects include Down Syndrome (6,037 annual cases, according to the CDC), cleft lip (4,437 annual cases), spina bifida (1,460 annual cases) and reduction or deformity of the upper limbs (1,454 cases annually) or lower limbs (701 cases annually).
Birth injury, or birth trauma, is physical damage to the child’s body during the birth / delivery process.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) National Healthcare Quality Report for 2003 said there were 6.68 birth trauma injuries per 1,000 births in the U.S. in the year 2000, or about 26,720 cases.
Let’s look at the numbers for the most common birth injuries:
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. CP is the most common motor disability in childhood. The CDC says:
- About 1 in 303 children in the United States have CP.
- 1.5 to more than 4 babies per 1,000 children born around the world suffer from a form of CP.
- 80 percent of children with CP have spastic cerebral palsy.
- 1.2 times more boys than girls have CP.
Brachial Plexus Injury (BPI) refers to an injury to the complex set of nerves that control the muscles of the fingers, hand, arm and shoulder, the United Brachial Plexus Network (UBPN) says.
BPI is sometimes known as Erb’s Palsy (for injury to the upper trunk), Klumpke’s Palsy (lower trunk injury), Brachial Plexus Palsy, Erb-Duchenne Palsy or Horner’s Syndrome (when facial nerves are also affected). “Torticollis” is another term sometimes used in conjunction with brachial plexus injuries.
Most brachial plexus injuries occur during birth with a condition called “shoulder dystocia,” in which the baby’s shoulder becomes “stuck” against its mother’s pubic bone, according to the UBPN. Excessive force applied to the baby’s neck and head result in stretching and/or tearing of the Brachial Plexus nerves. It is estimated that 2 to 5 children per 1,000 births suffer brachial plexus injuries.
Contact a Chicago Birth Injury Lawyer
If you think your child’s birth injuries were caused by medical error or negligence, our experienced Chicago lawyers can help you. It’s important to act promptly so we can obtain and review the relevant medical records. Once we review your case, we can give you an experience-driven assessment of your legal case.
Contact the Chicago attorneys of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., as soon as possible for a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case. We assist families throughout Chicago and Illinois, including residents of Cook and Lake counties. Call us today toll free or use our online contact form.