Causes of a Birth Injury
Unfortunately, when the mother is in labor or delivering the baby, there are times when the doctor may not initially realize the true size of the infant. If the baby is particularly large or in a position other than the normal head-first position, it can lead to problems and subsequent birth injuries during delivery. There are a number of factors that can result in a baby being born with birth injuries. They include the following:
• Abnormal birthing presentation: An abnormal birthing presentation involves the baby entering the birth canal not head-first but in an abnormal, unhealthy position, such as breech or feet-first.
• Cephalopelvic disproportion: This is a problem that occurs when the shape and size of the mother’s pelvis are not sufficient for accommodating the baby during childbirth. As a result of this problem, the baby cannot be normally delivered vaginally.
• Dystocia: This relates to a mother suffering through a difficult labor and delivery.
• Large babies: If a baby weighs more than 8 pounds and 13 ounces, they are considered “large,” which can lead to problems during delivery and birth injuries.
• Prematurity: If a baby is born before 37 weeks of gestation, they are considered premature and can suffer birth injuries.
• Prolonged labor: If the mother suffers prolonged labor, which is also referred to as “failure to progress,” and lasts over 20 hours, there is a greater risk of the baby sustaining birth injuries.
Common Birth Injuries Explained
Certain types of birth injuries are more common than others. Overall, the following can be included in that category:
• Brachial palsy: This is a type of birth injury that is sustained when the nerves that control the arms and hands, the brachial plexus, are adversely affected. It typically occurs when there is a problem during delivery that involves the baby’s shoulder and results in strain or tearing of the nerves. The baby is then left with a birth injury that causes difficulty to flex and turn the arm. In the worst case scenario, when the nerves are torn, there may be permanent nerve damage and surgery may be necessary.
• Brain injury: If a baby is stuck in the birth canal during childbirth and does not receive adequate oxygen, it can lead to a catastrophic injury. With prolonged labor and childbirth, the baby can suffer brain damage, hypoxic ischemia injuries, epilepsy and neurological disorders like cerebral palsy.
• Caput succedaneum: If a baby is delivered via vacuum extraction, there may be a risk of injury to the soft tissues of the scalp. This occurs as a result of the baby’s head swelling as they travel down the birth canal.
• Cephalohematoma: Cephalohematoma is a birth injury that results in bleeding under the baby’s scalp during delivery. Usually, this appears a few hours after the birth and shows up as a raised lump on the baby’s skull. In some cases, the baby may develop jaundice as well.
• Facial paralysis: When the mother is in labor and the baby experiences pressure on their face, it can result in an injury to the facial nerves. This injury can also be sustained if forceps are used during the delivery. Overall, facial paralysis can occur on one side of the baby’s face. It can also cause one eye to not close. If the facial nerves are only bruised, the baby’s condition can improve within a few weeks, but if the nerves are torn, surgery might be necessary.
Medical Errors That Can Lead to Birth Injuries
Most birth injuries come as a direct result of medical errors during the mother’s pregnancy or childbirth. Some of the most common in birth injury cases include the following:
• Not recognizing a high-risk pregnancy
• Not quickly and effectively diagnosing and treating preterm labor
• Not responding quickly or appropriately to vaginal bleeding
• Not immediately taking action when the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck
• Not assessing and treating fetal distress during childbirth
• Delaying a Cesarian section
• Not properly using forceps or vacuum extraction during childbirth
• Inappropriate use of drugs to induce labor
• Not treating gestational diabetes
• Not treating high blood pressure in the mother
Birth injuries can be devastating and have lasting effects on a child and the entire family. If your baby suffered a birth injury during childbirth, you need an experienced birth injury attorney on your side. Your lawyer will work hard to protect your rights and those of your child.