Many children with birth injuries, particularly those with cerebral palsy suffer from a failure to thrive and/or swallowing disorders. In an effort to keep their weight gain at normal levels and to provide proper nutrition, doctors and other health care professionals may recommend feeding tubes. Feeding tubes come in different types, and have an impact on health and birth injury lawsuits.
Types of Feeding Tubes
There are two types of feeding tubes: nasogastric tubes (NG tubes) and gastrostomy (or gastric) tubes (G-tubes).
Nasogastric tubes are feeding tubes that are inserted, usually by health care professionals, into the nose of the child and down the throat to the stomach. They can be used for feeding and medication. Placement is uncomfortable, and may require anesthesia. Risks of NG tubes include accidental placement into the lungs, which can be dangerous particularly when feeding begins. Children with cerebral palsy sometimes intentionally or unintentionally yank the tubes out, which may require a trip to the hospital for replacement. The adhesives holding the tube in place can negatively react to the skin, causing discomfort.
Gastric tubes are a longer-term solution. They are surgically implanted into the stomach, and allow feeding directly to the stomach. Parents can use formula or regular food that is well-blended. There are buttons on the tube that need to be replaced, usually about every three months. These can be done by a health care provider or, oftentimes, by the parent. If the child can feed well enough on his or her own, the tube will be removed and it will heal with a small scar. These tubes help to avoid the risks of aspiration pneumonia, and common and life-threatening complication for children with cerebral palsy.
In birth injury lawsuits, one frequent area of contention is the life expectancy of the child. If a child can prove that the doctor acted negligently and caused cerebral palsy, the child will then have to prove his future damages. It is important for a jury to know how long the child is expected to live, so they can calculate the number of years that the life care plan must be financed.
Research on the life expectancy of children with cerebral palsy is in a constant state of flux. Recent data indicates that people with cerebral palsy fed with gastrostomy tubes have a longer life expectancy than children with cerebral palsy who do not use that method of feeding.
If your child has cerebral palsy, and you want to know if it could have been prevented at birth, contact our medical malpractice lawyers at (440) 252-4399, or send us a message through our website. We can examine your child’s medical records and determine whether this injury was caused by a preventable mistake.