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Brain Injury Attorney

Brain Injury

San Diego Brain Injury Attorneys

Brain Injuries Caused by Forceps and Vacuum Extractors

According to a reputable medical study, each year one in 1,900 infants delivered vaginally sustains a brain injury, as does one in 2,750 delivered via cesarean section. That risk is doubled—and sometimes tripled—for babies who experience difficult deliveries that involve the use of delivery tools: roughly one in 664 infants delivered using medical forceps suffers a brain injury, as does one in 860 infants delivered using vacuum extraction.

If you believe your child sustained brain injury during delivery, please contact the brain injury lawyers of Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates.

What are the dangers associated with forceps and vacuum extractors?

Forceps and vacuum extractors are considered safe when appropriately used, but all too often physicians act negligently—harming infants who up to that point were considered healthy. Forceps, which are large tweezers used to turn the baby into the appropriate direction for birth, may be used on the wrong side of the baby’s head or at the wrong stage of labor, causing severe cranial damage, bruising, indentations, blood loss, and cephalohematoma. Cephalohematoma—bleeding between a bone and its covering—typically surfaces on infants’ heads and can cause jaundice if particularly large. Vacuum extractors, which attach a soft plastic cap to the baby’s head, essentially suction the baby out when the mother has a contraction. Vacuum extractors can cause a myriad of problems as well, including lacerations, blood clots, surface bruising, bruising under the scalp or skull, and Caput Succedaneum, which is severe swelling of the scalp. All of these injuries can lead to permanent brain damage, developmental delays, seizures, and sometimes death.

If you believe your child sustained brain injury during delivery, please contact the brain injury attorneys of Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates.

What can I do if my child suffered a brain injury at the hand of a negligent physician?

If your child has suffered a brain injury as a result of a physician’s negligence or error when using either of these two methods of extraction, he or she may be entitled to lifelong compensation. Please contact our office today to learn more.


What is kernicterus?

Kernicterus is a progressive type of brain damage that results in vision and dental problems, mental retardation, hearing loss and, sometimes, athetoid cerebral palsy. It develops in infants who suffer from untreated, severe jaundice, a condition characterized by yellowing of the eyes and skin. Quite common in newborns, jaundice occurs when the liver manufactures too much of the yellow pigment bilirubin. Bilirubin is a byproduct left by broken-down red blood cells. If too many blood cells die at once, bilirubin builds up in the liver and eventually disperses to the brain, skin, and whites of the eyes. Jaundice usually clears up on its own but, if it doesn’t, the excess bilirubin in the brain can cause severe brain injury.

How can kernicterus be prevented?

The threat of kernicterus arises when a physician fails to 1) properly diagnose jaundice and 2) administer proper treatment within a timely manner to babies whose jaundice does not clear up on its own. Babies with advanced jaundice typically undergo phototherapy treatment, which involves placing them under special lights designed to facilitate their healing, or are given blood transfusions. But if a physician neglects to treat these babies, jaundice can develop into full-blown kernicterus. Only through proper diagnosis and treatment can it be prevented.

If you believe your child acquired kernicterus because of medical malpractice, please contact the brain injury attorneys of Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates .

What are the warning signs of kernicterus?

Kernicterus is categorized by:

  • Increased restlessness
  • Very yellow or orangey skin from the top of the head to between the toes
  • Decrease in level of alertness
  • High-pitched crying
  • Limpness or excessive tiredness
  • Decreased ability to nurse or suck
  • Arching of the body into a bow shape

It is believed that kernicterus is more likely to develop in babies who are released too early from the hospital—especially if these babies are jaundiced. It is imperative that parents be aware of this risk.

What can I do if my child has developed kernicterus?

If your child has developed kernicterus as a result of untreated or misdiagnosed jaundice, your family is entitled to compensation. Please contact Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates so that we may advise you of your legal rights.

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