Birth Injury Lawyer Assisting Clients with Cephalohematoma Claims in Ontario
Planning for the birth of an infant is a joyous time for many parents in Ontario, and nobody anticipates that a medical error will result in a devastating birth injury. However, birth injuries impact infants more often than they should. While many birth injuries are minor and heal fully within a period of time, there are also numerous birth injuries that are debilitating and can result in lifelong disabilities or even death. One relatively common type of birth injury that can in some cases be serious is cephalohematoma. The swelling of an infant’s brain can be extremely hazardous, and it is important to seek medical treatment for this condition as soon as possible. At the same time, you also may be able to hold your obstetrician or another healthcare provider accountable.
If you recently gave birth and your child suffered a cephalohematoma or another type of severe birth injury, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. An Ontario cephalohematoma lawyer can discuss your options with you today.
What is Cephalohematoma?
Cephalohematoma involves the swelling of an infant’s brain. More specifically, according to Healthline, it is “a collection of blood between a baby’s scalp and the skull.” As WebMD explains, a “hematoma” is a word that refers to bleeding that pools and forms a clot, and it is typically used to refer to bleeding in the brain that produces some swelling. The first part of the term, “cephalo,” refers to the brain or skull area. As such, a cephalohematoma refers to bleeding and swelling in the brain. To be clear, this is a type of bleeding that occurs on top of the infant’s skull and not under the infant’s skull or on the infant’s brain (which is referred to as a subdural hematoma).
How does a cephalohematoma occur? When an infant’s blood vessels below the scalp are damaged, they can release blood. Then that blood can pool underneath the infant’s skin on the scalp. Cephalohematoma can occur in a person at any age, but it is a common form of birth injury. Anywhere from 1 to 2% of babies develop cephalohematoma either before or just after birth. In some cases, however, this injury can pose serious risks for the infant.
Causes of Cephalohematoma
Cephalohematoma is a common type of birth injury that occurs during labor and delivery. There are numerous ways in which a cephalohematoma can occur, including but not limited to:
- Infant’s head is larger than the mother’s pelvic area, and infant’s head hits mother’s pelvis during childbirth;
- Use of forceps or vacuum during childbirth; and
- Difficult or prolonged labor.
Not all cephalohematoma injuries result from medical negligence or medical malpractice, but some of these injuries may occur when a healthcare provider makes a mistake. Other risk factors can include:
- Particularly large infant;
- Particularly small birth canal;
- Weak uterine contractions;
- First pregnancy;
- Abnormal fetus position prior to delivery;
- Carrying multiple fetuses to term; and
- Use of certain pain medications.
If an obstetrician knows that a birth is likely to be difficult or complicated, that healthcare provider has a duty to take certain steps to help prevent injury.
Symptoms of Infant Cephalohematoma
There are numerous symptoms of cephalohematoma, which can be physical and behavioral. Obvious signs and symptoms may include the following:
- Soft bulge on the back of the infant’s skull shortly after the injury;
- Hardening bulge on the back of the infant’s skull in the weeks after birth;
- Crater-like spot on the back of the infant’s skull;
- Anemia (low red blood cell counts);
- Jaundice, which is a yellowing or whitening of the skin and/or eyes; and
In some cases, there are no clear signs of cephalohematoma. If you notice any physical or behavioral changes in your infant, it is important to see your pediatrician. When there is a bulge on the infant’s skull, the pediatrician may be able to make a diagnosis. However, some situations may require additional testing, such as:
- CT scan;
- MRI; and/or
Who is Responsible When a Cephalohematoma Birth Injury Occurs?
Many different parties may be held accountable for a birth injury like cephalohematoma, including but not limited to the following:
- Obstetrician/gynecologist who provides the mother’s regular care;
- Obstetrician/gynecologist who delivers the baby (if different from the regular doctor);
- Nurse or nurse practitioner;
- Midwife; and/or
- Hospital or birth center where the injury occurred.
Statute of Limitations for a Cephalohematoma Claim in Ontario
Most birth injury cases have a two-year statute of limitations under the Limitations Act. This means that the parents typically have two years from the date of the injury that resulted in the cephalohematoma to file a claim for compensation. The clock on the statute of limitations begins running either when the injury first occurs, or when a reasonable person should have known that the injury occurred.
In cases of cephalohematoma, it is important for parents to keep in mind that a child might not show any immediate signs or symptoms of the injury. As such, you may be able to argue that the clock on the statute of limitations actually began running on the date that your child did show signs of the injury or was diagnosed with cephalohematoma by a physician.
Statutes of limitations on birth injury claims can become more complex due to the delay of the limitation period under Section 6 of the Limitations Act. Under this part of the statute, the clock on the statute of limitations may be delayed in some cases up until the infant reaches the age of majority (or reaches 18 years of age).
Contact a Cephalohematoma Lawyer in Ontario
When your child suffers a birth injury, it can be difficult to think about anything aside from medical care and the short-term effects of your child’s injury. If a birth injury is severe, the parents and the child should not be responsible for the economic and emotional costs of the injury. It is important to speak with a cephalohematoma lawyer in Ontario about your options for seeking compensation. You may be entitled to receive financial damages. Contact Preszler Injury Lawyers today to learn more about the services we provide to clients across Ontario.