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When parents are faced with an infant who suffered injuries just before or during the birth process, the future is uncertain. Some birth injuries are minor and will fade quickly, leaving no lasting effects. Others, however, can be disabling and incapacitating for the duration of your child's life.

One of the problems is that not all birth injuries - or their extent - are immediately obvious to the parents or even the obstetrician. But even if nothing is obviously amiss in the days and weeks after your baby's birth, there are still usually early signs that there may be some problems.

What was your baby's APGAR score?

At birth, each infant is assessed and evaluated and given an APGAR score. The name comes from the anesthesiologist who developed the system, Virginia Apgar, but it also is an acronym for these qualities: Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity and Respiration. The infant is assessed twice, at birth and after five minutes. Scores range from zero to 10, with eight to 10 indicating a healthy, normal infant. Babies that score lower may get a third assessment at 10 minutes. A lower than normal APGAR score does not always indicate permanent damage - but it could.

Is your baby hitting the developmental milestones?

Lagging behind other babies developmentally can be one indicator that a condition like cerebral palsy may be present. But not all babies and toddlers hit these milestones at the same time, so simply being slower to walk or talk doesn't necessarily mean the child had a birth injury. However, a pattern of missed developmental milestones deserves a second look.

Take action early if you suspect a birth injury

Parents seem to have a sixth sense where their children's health is involved. Sometimes they just "know" something isn't right, even if this is their firstborn baby. If you believe that the obstetrician or midwife who delivered your child was negligent or otherwise caused your child's birth injury, you owe it to your child to pursue compensation for the damages and injuries he or she has suffered.

Consider, too, that the child may require years of ongoing therapies and special equipment in order to manage his or her activities of daily life. None of that comes cheaply. Conditions that will be permanently disabling make life more difficult for a person, and they deserve the compensation that a settlement or judgment can bring.

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