A rare occurrence, a birth injury has serious consequences for families and delivering physicians. Called a birth injury or birth trauma, a birth process when a baby is hurt happens approximately six to eight times in every 1,000 births. Birth injuries can occur for a variety of reasons that include the size of the baby (too large or too small), the position of the baby during delivery, premature birth, the position of the mother during birth and more. Birth difficulties are most likely to occur during a first delivery when the mother has gestational diabetes or pelvic abnormalities.
Most Common Delivery Difficulties that Result in Birth Injuries
Some of the most common delivery difficulties that result in birth injuries include the following.
- Caput Succedaneum. A severe swelling of a baby’s scalp, caput succedaneum occurs during labor and delivery and is common in babies who were born using vacuum extraction. This swelling can also occur when a baby’s head is pressed against the mother’s cervix for a long time as well. Bruising may also occur in the area of the caput. In general, the swelling lasts only a few days and goes away by itself. An ultrasound will usually reveal if a more serious problem exists.
- Cephalohematoma. A bleeding underneath the outer tissue covering the bone (periostium) of a baby’s head, this problem may not be immediately apparent, but will show itself several hours after birth. Usually treatment is not necessary, but it may take a few weeks or months for the blood to reabsorb and disappear from the baby’s brain. Most common in forceps and vacuum extractions, cephalohematom occurs in an estimated one to two percent of spontaneous births. Bruising. Another common injury in forceps and vacuum extractions, bruising usually goes away on its own.
- Lacerations. A cut to a baby’s skin, a laceration usually occurs due to a scalpel incident during a cesarean section or vacuum extraction process. Occasionally requiring stitches or glue, lacerations are often treated with bandages. The concern in a laceration difficulty is infection, meaning the wound should be treated with antibiotic ointment.
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage. A common occurrence in babies at birth, a subconjunctival hemorrhage can affect one or both eyes of the baby and appears as redness in the baby’s eye. The amount of redness varies and depends on the amount of blood vessels that break. This injury does not require treatment and will not affect a baby’s eye long term.
- Fractures. A collarbone break occurs sometimes when there is a problem delivering a baby’s shoulder. A breech delivery can also result in a fracture of the humerus. Such fractures typically heal without treatment, but splinting the break may reduce pain.
- Brachial palsy. Brachial palsy is injury to a group of nerves call the brachial plexus which aids movement of arms and hands. Damage to the brachial plexus affects a baby’s ability to move his or her arm and can be temporary or permanent.
- Facial nerve paralysis. Caused from pressure on facial nerves as a result of a forceps birth, this paralysis often clears up on its own a few weeks after birth.
- Intracranial hemorrhage. An intracranial hemorrhage results when blood vessels are broken in a baby’s skull. Bleeding can occur in many areas of the baby’s brain as a result. Common in premature births, intracranial hemorrhage may cause babies to have poor feeding and seizure.
While many birth injuries will repair on their own, some cause lifelong disabilities and require ongoing treatment and therapy. In severe cases, birth injuries can have catastrophic impacts on the lives of the infant and parents in the form of major expenses for long term care.
Contact a Lawyer Experienced Birth Injury Litigation for Assistance with Your Birth Injury Case
Birth injuries are never easy to deal with. Should you experience a birth injury that is a result of the negligence of your doctor, you may have grounds to sue him or her for medical malpractice. To determine if your baby’s birth injury is a case of medical malpractice or negligence, contact a lawyer
experienced in birth injury litigation for a consultation.