When a newborn is diagnosed with a birth injury it can impact every member of your family. Understanding these impacts, understanding your coping mechanisms, and understanding what options your family has available are all important for helping your family heal, manage, and start to move on.
In many cases, birth injuries will have lifelong effects. These effects can impact the family in a variety of different ways. While the financial impacts are often the most immediate, and the most tangible, the emotional and psychological impacts can affect all family members’ lives as well.
For families, the financial costs of a birth injury can be substantial. While health insurance might cover your child’s medical needs to an extent, most families will incur medical bills, and many families will not be able to afford to pay what they owe.
For example, today, the lifetime costs of care for a newborn diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP) can climb to well above one million dollars. This is a comparable cost to many other birth injury diagnoses.
Families can face other financial costs as a result of a child’s birth injury diagnosis as well. For example, parents will often need to miss significant time from work in order to take their children to doctor’s appointments and provide at-home care. Ultimately parents may decide that it is best for one of them to leave their job and stay home full-time. Even then it may be necessary to hire at-home help ranging from nurses and therapists to landscapers and cleaners.
Depending on a child’s specific diagnosis parents may also need to incur costs for home and vehicle modifications. These costs might be immediate or they might become necessary as the child grows. Similarly, while a child who has been diagnosed with a birth injury may need a certain type of care initially, over time, his or her needs may shift to require the engagement of therapists, social workers, tutors, and other specialists.
As a result, when planning for their financial needs, parents must consider more than just their current medical expenses. They must consider the other financial impacts of their child’s birth injury diagnosis as well. Some families may need to scale back in other areas and many will need to seek financial assistance—whether now or in the future.
A birth injury can also have emotional and psychological impacts on all members of the family. Generally speaking, these impacts will be different for the parents, the child’s siblings, and the child.
As a parent, learning that your child has been diagnosed with a life-altering birth injury can be heartbreaking. It can take time to come to terms with your child’s diagnosis and your family’s situation and you may need time to grieve. While grieving can be both healthy and necessary parents should also consider seeking help from a counselor or therapist. It is important to be able to cope effectively while still being present in the family’s day-to-day life.
Anxiety and depression are not uncommon among parents whose children have been diagnosed with birth injuries. Parents may also experience hypertension and other physical effects. As a parent, as you begin to cope, it will be important to be aware of the signs that you may need to consult with a doctor.
The financial stress that many families experience as the result of a child’s birth injury diagnosis can also lead to emotional and psychological strain. The stress of coping with your family’s situation can strain many couples’ relationships as well. Again, it is important to recognize that these are possibilities and to seek professional help when necessary.
Having a brother or sister with a birth injury can also be emotionally difficult. Young children may not understand how or why their sibling is different, and this confusion can impact how they process their own personal circumstances as they grow. Children can also find it difficult if their parents spend more time or devote more attention to their sibling—even if this is due to their sibling’s unique needs.
Unfortunately, children can also experience impacts in their social lives. Even at relatively young ages, children can face bullying or ostracization as the result of having a brother or sister who is different. These can have their own psychological effects; and, as a result, parents may need to watch for signs of childhood anxiety and depression as well.
Lastly, a birth injury impacts the child who has been diagnosed. In addition to the direct cognitive effects of the birth injury itself, growing up with a birth injury can have significant emotional and psychological consequences. This is particularly true once children begin to see how they are different from their peers—and this can begin to happen at a relatively young age.
Given the significant, and often long-term, impacts of having a child diagnosed with a birth injury parents need to do their best to address all family members’ needs—including their own. This means talking to health care professionals as necessary and it also means consulting with a birth injury lawyer about their legal rights.
In many cases, parents of children diagnosed with birth injuries will have claims for medical malpractice. There are various other options for securing benefits, grants, and other financial resources as well that a legal professional can help you access. An experienced birth injury lawyer can explain all of your family’s options and can help you navigate the process of coping with your child’s diagnosis.
If your child has been diagnosed with a birth injury, we encourage you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Berkowitz Hanna. To speak with one of our highly-experienced Connecticut birth injury lawyers in confidence, please call or contact us online today.