Neonatal Negligence

New parents often cite the early days after the birth of a child as a very emotional period, which can be very stressful as well as being filled with joy. Unfortunately, in some cases, this period becomes even more stressful when problems emerge or outcomes are not as positive as expected.

The neonatal period is defined as the time period from birth until 28 days old. Any injury that is sustained or becomes evident during this time will be regarded as a ‘neonatal injury’ and any case for arising from such an injury will be known as a neonatal.

What is Normal in the Neonatal Period?

When a baby is born, he or she will be examined by a doctor or health professional who is qualified to carry out neonatal checks. This will usually take place within the first twelve hours of a baby’s life, and often within the first few minutes after birth. This check is intended to identify any problems that may need immediate intervention, and to find out whether further tests or treatment are indicated.

The purpose of a neonatal check is to establish whether there are any physical abnormalities, or any warning signs of jaundice, among other things.  This check may be repeated in the first few days of life. If a problem is later identified that ought to have been picked up during this examination, or if a misdiagnosis is made, which leads to a negative outcome there may be grounds for a neonatal case.

What is Neonatal Negligence?

Neonatal negligence concerns the failure to properly monitor, or correctly identify, symptoms and signs of illnesses or injuries that emerge in the first 28 days of life which could have serious repercussions for the future of the child.

Examples include:

  • Neonatal jaundice. This is a rare but serious condition that can lead to brain damage and cerebral palsy.
  • Reactions to vaccinations. Minor reactions are very common, but serious reactions and even fatalities can result from routine vaccinations.  There is a higher risk of this occurring when a child is unwell.
  • Hip dysplasia. Dislocated or misaligned hips can be treated, usually using splints and bandaging. If this condition is not corrected in the neonatal period, it may lead to further interventions, major surgery and difficulties with mobility in the future.
  • Neonatal hypoglycaemia. Some newborn babies are unable to regulate their own glucose levels, which can potentially lead to brain damage if undetected.

This list is not exhaustive. Neonatal conditions do not, of course, mean that there has been medical negligence in the treatment of a child.  However, if you believe that your baby has been treated in a way that has negatively affected their outcomes or prognosis, you should seek legal advice.

How Do I Proceed With  A Case For Neonatal Injury?

If you believe that treatment your baby received was negligent, you should consult a specialist medical negligence solicitor* to discuss your case.
Our principal Seamus O’Sullivan initially deals with all Medical Negligence cases; providing you with the experience, expert advice and support you need at a difficult time.

S.T. O’Sullivan & Co. Solicitors, 6, Bindon Street, Ennis, Co.Clare.

*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or a proportion of any award or settlement.


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