Birmingham Law Firm Supports Birth Trauma Awareness Day

Day Organised By Birth Trauma Association

11.08.2009

Specialist lawyers from the Birmingham office of Irwin Mitchell solicitors are backing a national campaign to raise awareness of the problems caused by birth trauma.

Saturday 15 August 2009 will be the third annual National Birth Trauma Awareness Day, organised by the Birth Trauma Association, a voluntary organisation that supports women who have suffered problems during child birth.

Birth trauma can lead to serious injuries to both mother and baby, and in severe cases can even cause deaths. It can cause mothers to tear or haemorrhage, and can leave babies affected by life long conditions such as Cerebral Palsy or Erbs Palsy. Some mothers also struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Families may be left facing the expense of home adaptations and physiotherapy and, with little or no support, the effects can be devastating.

Irwin Mitchell supports clients throughout the region who have been affected by ensuring they receive the necessary care, therapies and funding which are vital following birth trauma and the national awareness day plays an important role in this.

Mandy Luckman, a medical negligence solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, said: “We need to continue to raise the awareness of the help that is out there for people who have been affected by birth trauma, whether directly or indirectly. There is help out there for everyone, but unless you know where to look it can be hard to find.

“Irwin Mitchell is proud to support this day because the effects of birth trauma can be life changing for many people. There are people out there who are suffering alone because they don’t know help is available, and events like these can reach out to these people and provide them with the support they need.”

Julie Orford, Chair of the Birth Trauma Association, said: "The aim of the day is to raise awareness of birth trauma and the work of our organisation, so that families know there is somewhere they can turn to for help and support during what can be a devastating time."

For more information on birth trauma visit www.birthtraumaassociation.org.uk/

Case Study – Amanda Langford and Christopher

21-year-old Christopher Langford from Tipton in the West Midlands has cerebral palsy caused by oxygen starvation at birth and he suffers from severe mobility problems and developmental delay. His brain injury was caused due to crucial delays during his delivery at Sandwell Hospital on 26th October 1987.

Christopher’s mother, Amanda Langford, had a normal, healthy pregnancy but things started to go wrong during labour.  When the CTG (cardiotocography) trace showed an abnormal foetal heartbeat, the midwives called for an obstetrician but the obstetrician failed to attend and the midwives had to deliver Christopher on their own.

Mandy Luckman, a medical negligence expert with Irwin Mitchell Solicitors explained: “Amanda and Christopher came to Irwin Mitchell because they desperately needed answers – in particular, whether Christopher’s condition should have been preventable.

“West Midlands Strategic Health Authority refused to admit liability and we were left with no choice but to issue proceedings at the High Court in London.”

During the trial, it was agreed that an obstetrician should have attended within five minutes of being called and the independent medical experts gave evidence about how long a forceps delivery should have taken if the obstetrician had attended promptly. 
 
As the CTG trace showed, Christopher was clearly in distress. It was the view of the judge that if an obstetrician had attended within 5 minutes of being called, Christopher would have been born 9 minutes earlier than he was.  It was agreed by the independent medical experts that in such circumstances, Christopher would have suffered only a mild degree of brain damage.

Mandy added: “Over the years I have dealt with many cases where delays in delivery have resulted in cerebral palsy, but the fact that in Christopher’s case just a 9 minute delay made such a catastrophic difference to the outcome really does highlight that when an unborn baby’s oxygen levels start to drop every second is crucial.”

The parties are in the process of agreeing the final award but this looks likely to be  substantial  The money will be held by the Court of Protection  and will ensure that Christopher receives  round the clock care and the specialist equipment he will need for the rest of his life.

Amanda Langford said: “All I ever wanted was answers but for many years the Health Authority led me to believe that the delays in Christopher’s birth were not responsible for the extent of his cerebral palsy. I am angry that the Health Authority did not feel able to admit that mistakes were made which have cost my son the chance to live an independent life.”

“Christopher is a very happy young man and has a real love of life but he naturally gets frustrated that he cannot do the things that most of us take for granted.  He would have loved to have been able to do the things that other children consider to be everyday like kicking a ball or learning to ride a bicycle.”

She added: “I went through so many emotions after Christopher was born. Organisations like the BTA do fantastic work because women who have suffered birth trauma of any kind can often feel incredibly isolated. Having another parent to talk to who has experienced similar emotions can be a real lifeline.”