The birth of your child should be one of the happiest days of your life. However, what happens if your baby is born with a birth injury? A birth injury can quickly turn a happy day into one of scariest experiences of your life. Babies are frail. Their bodies are much more susceptible to injury. Also, a simple injury is much more life threatening to a newborn than a full grown person. Bruises, broken bones, and swelling can all be life-threatening to newborns. This article will examine some of the more common birth injuries and their causes.
Common Birth Injury: Caput Succedaneum
Caput Succedaneum is a condition which results from pressure from the mother’s uterus or vaginal wall during delivery. The symptoms include bruising as well as swelling of the scalp. This birth injury is especially common during long deliveries especially when the amniotic sac bursts and leaves the babies head without protection. Another common cause of this injury is the use of a vacuum extraction device during a particularly difficult birth.
Common Birth Injury: Cephalohematoma
Cephalohematoma is an accumulation of blood below the protective membrane that covers an infant’s skull. This build up shows as a bump on the baby’s head several hours after birth. The lump could grow in the hours following delivery. Most cephalohematomas do not require medical attention. However, there are some that cause jaundice because of their size.
Common Birth Injury: Broken Bones and Bruises
Bruising during childbirth is very common. The physical stresses often lead to bruising. However, broken bones are far less common. Both of these injuries can occur when a doctor uses a birth- assisting tools such as forceps or a vacuum extraction device. Improper use of these tools can lead to serious injuries during childbirth. Broken bones and bruising can also occur if the hospital staff drops a baby. However, hospitals take extra precautions to ensure that the staff does not drop a baby.
Common Birth Injury: Bell’s Palsy
Bell’s Palsy occurs when there is damage to a baby’s facial nerve. In most cases, Bell’s Palsy occurs when there is pressure on the babies face from the mother’s vaginal canal. However, improper use of forceps can also cause Bell’s Palsy.
Nerve damage causes a baby to be unable to move muscles in their face. The symptoms are especially evident when the baby cries or tries to sleep. In most cases, the affected eye can’t close. Bell’s Palsy heals itself if the nerve is just damaged. If the nerve is torn, a baby may require surgery to fix the injury.
Common Birth Injury: Oxygen Deprivation
Oxygen deprivation, or anoxia, is one of the most dangerous birth injuries. The common causes of anoxia are the umbilical cord wrapping around the neck or the placenta detaching prematurely. Both of these cause a lower amount of oxygen reaching the brain.
Oxygen deprivation can cause serious brain injuries. Cerebral palsy, blindness, hearing loss, and learning disabilities are common side effects of anoxia. The brain needs oxygen to function and brain cells die within a matter of minutes. Delays in breathing for three minutes or more can lead to serious injury to the brain, seizures, coma, or even death.
Hypoxia is a less severe injury resulting from a lower than normal level of oxygen in the blood. While not as severe as anoxia, hypoxia can still lead to serious complications.
Common Birth Injury: Fractures
The most common birth injury is a fracture of a bone. The most common bone that fractures during childbirth is the collarbone. Breech births or shoulder dystocia prevents the baby from moving one of their arms. Having one arm stuck in place can cause a fracture. If the infant feels pain from the injury, a splint or brace may be required.
What to Do After a Birth Injury
Most injuries are minor and heal themselves. However, some injuries may require further medical procedures. The outcome varies widely depending on the circumstances. If the injury is a result of medical malpractice, you should contact an attorney immediately. Many instances of birth trauma are avoidable with proper medical procedures.
If the injury is a result of medical malpractice, you should contact an attorney immediately. Many instances of birth trauma are avoidable with proper medical procedures. If your baby has suffered a birth injury from one of the following situations, a medical malpractice attorney can help.
- Delay of/failure to perform cesarean sections
- Failure to observe fetal monitor tracings
- Failure to treat gestational diabetes
- Errors in the N.I.C.U.
- Improper genetic testing
You may be entitled to compensation for the medical bills and any pain or suffering the injury may cause.