Nobody likes to talk about the possibility of birth injuries. Discovering your newborn child has suffered an injury that could have lifelong consequences is downright traumatic, and something no parent should have to deal with. But the reality is, birth injuries do happen, and if you increase your knowledge on them, you may be able to prevent some—and take action on others.
Birth Injuries: Who’s at Fault?
First, you should know that there are many types of birth injuries, with millions of babies born each year in the United States with one type of injury or another. Some are minor, leading to a few days’ worth of complications, but others can have lifelong effects.
In many birth injury cases, the injury is practically unpreventable. Despite the best care, a complication during pregnancy or birth results in the damage to the newborn. However, some occur because delivery staff members failed to respond adequately to the conditions of the delivery, or failed to notice complications early enough to take proactive action. In these cases, it may be in your best interest to seek legal action against the hospital.
Common Types of Birth Injuries
So what types of birth injuries are most worth knowing and understanding?
First, understand that any number of complicating factors that could result in some combination of the following injury types. If the size of the fetus is miscalculated, if there are infections or medical problems in the mother or fetus, or if improper dating led to pre- or post-mature delivery, it could increase your likelihood of your newborn experiencing one of the following injuries. Failure to notice and respond to fetal distress, improper use of delivery instruments, and the administration of improper medications can also be problematic.
These are some of the most common results from these issues:
Bone fractures are common when the delivery requires a bit of extra assistance. Occasionally, the birthing process may stagnate, or the baby may not be emerging as expected; in these cases, doctors often use forceps and other birth-assisting tools to guide the baby out. This is usually a good thing, but if used improperly, the baby can suffer a broken collarbone or other broken bones. Fortunately, this is one of the least impactful injuries to deal with; most broken bones heal completely and with no further complications.
Caput Succedaneum is a condition that occurs when the doctor or delivery staff puts too much pressure atop a baby’s head during a prolonged or difficult delivery. This usually results in some combination of a lump, bruising, discoloration, or swelling on the scalp. It can be painful to the child, but isn’t life-threatening. In rare cases, further complications may arise.
Brain injury and cerebral palsy
Head injuries can indicate brain injuries, which do have a long-term effect on the child. If the child’s developing brain is injured during delivery, it could significantly and negatively affect their coordination, motor function, reflex, mobility, and muscle tone; this is known as cerebral palsy. Unfortunately, cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition, and there’s currently no cure, though most people with cerebral palsy can go on to have a happy, healthy life.
Brachial plexus injury (BPI)
The brachial plexus is a collection of nerves responsible for relaying signals from the spinal cord to your upper limbs (i.e., shoulders, arms, and hands). If the baby’s shoulders or upper body are handled irresponsibly, it could result in a brachial plexus injury (BPI), leading to loss of feeling or motion in the child’s upper body. In some cases, this can lead to complete paralysis.
Intracranial hemorrhage refers to bleeding inside the skull, and also occurs when excessive pressure is applied to the head during or immediately after birth. You may also hear this called a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which features bleeding between the brain and brain-covering tissue, or an intracerebral hemorrhage, which features bleeding on the brain.
Though easily the worst-case scenario on this list, it’s possible to experience a stillbirth. It’s estimated that stillbirth occurs in about 1 in 100 pregnancies, or 24,000 babies every year in the United States. Fortunately, this rate has dropped precipitously in the past 30 years or so, thanks to advancing medical technology and knowledge, but it’s still common enough to warrant our awareness.
If you feel your baby suffered a birth injury due to the negligence of your delivery staff, it’s important to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. Most lawyers offer free consultations, so there’s no risk in having a conversation with them.
When you get to the office, they’ll ask you some questions, and may ask you to provide pieces of evidence in the case. They’ll be able to help you determine whether the birth injury was attributable to company negligence, and can provide you with advice on how to proceed. If the birth injury was preventable, you may be entitled to compensation—and may be able to impose punitive damages on the organization responsible, to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Shift Frequency © 2019 – The Most Common Types of Birth Injury