Developmental Delays

Was My Child’s Developmental Delay Caused by Birth Injury Medical Malpractice?

Avoidable birth injuries (caused by negligent medical providers) are among the most prevalent causes of developmental delays in children.  These delays often manifest into long-term developmental disabilities, which require extensive medical treatment, therapy, special education services, and other resources to address.  Unfortunately, specialized care is often exorbitantly expensive, and many families do not have the financial means to afford the treatment that their child needs and rightfully deserves.

When a medical provider’s negligent acts lead to birth injuries and subsequent developmental issues, families should not have to struggle to pay for (or forgo) the care, therapy, and rehabilitation necessary to help improve their child’s condition.  It simply is not just or fair.  At Olsman MacKenzie Peacock & Wallace, we help parents and families in seeking to hold those responsible for their child’s disability accountable for compensation to help cover lifelong expenses.

As experienced Michigan developmental delay lawyers, we would like to help if your child suffered a birth injury and is now experiencing a developmental delay.  Call our office to schedule a free consultation.  We engage medical professionals who can evaluate the facts of your case, determine if your child’s developmental delays are likely the result of medical malpractice occurring as part of your child’s birth, assist in determining the treatment that may be needed throughout your child’s lifetime, and explain your legal options. 

What Are Developmental Delays?

When a child has ongoing or multiple delays in reaching key milestones, this can be a telling sign that a child can face challenges later in life.  Delays can relate to cognitive ability communication, motor skills, and behavior.  For example, a toddler may have a developmental impairment if their first word or steps occur at a much later date than other children.

As a child gets older, developmental delays can manifest into more severe learning or behavioral issues.  For example, school-aged children regularly struggle significantly with skills such as reading, writing, math, or general behavior, resulting in being held back or expelled from programs.  Some children may overcome their delays and catch up with peers; however, when delays persist, they are often indicative of lifelong developmental disabilities.  Fortunately, medical treatment, therapy, special education service, assistive technology, and other resources may be utilized to help improve the function of a child struggling with developmental issues.

How Many Children Have Developmental Delays?

One in six, or approximately 17%, of all children aged 3 to 17 have one or more developmental disabilities, such as:

  • ADHD
  • Autism
  • Cerebral palsy (“CP”)
  • Hearing loss
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Visual Impairments[1]

How Do Birth Injuries Cause Developmental Delays?

A birth injury is any harmful condition that occurs to a baby near or during the time of birth (including in late pregnancy).  The following are common birth injuries that can cause developmental delays:

  • Oxygen Deprivation. If a child does not have enough oxygen in their blood or blood flow to the brain is restricted, a severe brain injury called hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) can occur.  Often, babies with HIE develop cerebral palsy and numerous other developmental disabilities.  The following are a few medical errors and complications that can result in oxygen deprivation and HIE:
    • Monitoring errors
    • Premature birth
    • Delayed or emergency C-Sections
    • Placenta issues
    • Prolonged labor
    • Umbilical cord issues
    • Misuse of labor-enhancing drugs
    • Uterine Rupture
  • Traumatic Birth Injuries. Traumatic injuries occur when excessive force is utilized during delivery.  Commonly, the outcomes are similar to oxygen deprivation, in that CP, developmental delays, and other impairments often result.  Traumatic birth injuries frequently occur because of:
    • Breeches and abnormal fetal position
    • Forceps and vacuum extractor misuse
    • Shoulder dystocia
    • Macrosomia
    • Cephalopelvic disproportion
  • Infections. Maternal infections (developed in the uterus) or infections a baby sustains after birth due to proper treatment can lead to developmental disabilities.  The following are a few types of infections that can have lifelong implications:
    • Herpes
    • Neonatal meningitis
    • Group B strep
    • Chorioamnionitis
    • Neonatal sepsis

How Do I Know If My Child Has a Developmental Disability?

Developmental delays are diagnosed when a child does not reach milestones around the expected time.  The following are some of the signs that a pediatrician may look for when diagnosing a developmental disorder:

  • 1 Month of Age:
    • Inability to feed properly
    • Failure to respond to loud sounds
    • Inability to focus or follow with the eyes
    • Stiff or unstable limbs
    • Trembling of the lower jaw
  • 3 Months of Age:
    • Child does not smile in response to a parent’s voice or others
    • Inability to support the head
    • Failure to respond to loud sounds
    • Inability to push down the legs
  • 7 Months of Age:
    • Stiff or floppy limbs
    • Child shows no affection
    • Failure to respond to sounds
    • Inability to laugh, squeal, or babble
  • 1 Year of Age:
    • Child does not crawl
    • Inability to say a single word
    • Failure to stand
    • Inability to learn to point or gesture
  • 2 Years of Age:
    • Child cannot walk
    • Inability to form sentences
    • Failure to follow instructions
  • 3-4 Years of Age:
    • Inability to throw a ball
    • Child cannot jump in place
    • Social withdrawal
    • Refusal to dress or use a toilet
    • Failure to use sentences with more than three words
  • 4-5 Years of Age:
    • Excessive fear or timidity
    • Excessive aggression
    • Child is socially withdrawn and has no interest in playing with other children
    • Difficulty eating, sleeping, or using a toilet
    • Inability to understand two-part commands
    • Hygienic problems[2]

If Your Child Is Experiencing Developmental Delays, You Deserve Answers and the Truth

There are a number of reasons why a child may be experiencing developmental delays, including birth injury.  If a birth injury is suspected, then it’s critical to determine whether the injury was a result of medical malpractice.

If your child has been diagnosed as having developmental delays, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, or any other birth injury, our experienced birth injury lawyers would like to help.  We assist families in determining whether the injury is due to medical malpractice through retaining physicians and other medical experts to meticulously review client cases.  If it does appear that medical malpractice resulted in a birth injury, we seek to obtain compensation for lifelong care, therapy, and other expenses. We do not charge a fee unless we obtain a settlement or jury award, and we advance the costs of litigation.

We invite you to call our firm today to schedule a free consultation.

[1] Facts About Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

[2] Developmental Surveillance, Screening, and Referral Toolkit, American Academy of Pediatrics,

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