While childbirth is a joyous event, birth injuries can lead to a lifetime of medical complications for both mother and child. When medical professionals are negligent during childbirth, they may be held responsible for the injuries sustained. If you or your child has suffered from a birth injury, it’s crucial to seek legal help from a trusted medical malpractice firm.
Explore the most common birth injuries and the importance of seeking legal action if medical negligence is a factor.
Types of Birth Injuries
Several types of birth injuries can occur during childbirth, including:
- Brain injuries. Brain injuries during childbirth can occur due to a lack of oxygen in the baby’s brain. Oxygen deprivation can lead to conditions such as cerebral palsy, developmental delays, and other long-term neurological problems.1 Factors that may contribute to brain injuries include prolonged labor, umbilical cord compression, failure to deliver a baby in fetal distress, or maternal infection.
- Shoulder dystocia. Shoulder dystocia occurs when one or both of the baby’s shoulders become stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone during delivery.2 This can lead to nerve damage, fractures, and other injuries to the baby’s upper body. Shoulder dystocia is more likely to occur in babies who are larger than average, whose mothers have gestational diabetes, or who are born after their due date.
- Brachial plexus injuries. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that controls movement and sensation in the arms and hands. When a physician injures these nerves during childbirth, it can result in conditions such as Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy.3 Brachial plexus injuries may cause weakness, numbness, or paralysis in the affected arm.
- Fractures. Fractures occur during difficult deliveries when there is too much pressure on the baby’s bones. The most common fractures during childbirth are collarbone fractures, which can occur in up to 2% of all vaginal deliveries.
Causes of Birth Injuries
While birth injuries can occur during any birth, certain factors can increase the risk. Some of the most common causes include:
- Prolonged labor. If labor lasts longer than usual, there is a greater risk of injury. Prolonged labor can lead to fetal distress, which can cause oxygen deprivation and other challenges.
- Difficult delivery. If the baby is in an unusual position or is too large to pass through the birth canal, it is more likely to be injured.
- Premature birth. Babies who are born prematurely have a higher risk of birth injuries because their organs and other systems do not fully develop.
- Maternal health conditions. Maternal health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia can increase the risk of complications during birth.
- Use of assisted delivery methods. The use of forceps or vacuum extractors to assist with delivery can increase the risk of birth injuries.
- Multiple births. Twins, triplets, and other multiple births add stress and strain on the mother’s body and the babies.
- Inadequate prenatal care. Poor prenatal care can lead to undiagnosed health conditions or complications.
Prevention and Treatment of Birth Injuries
Fortunately, many birth injuries are preventable. Physicians can reduce the risk of birth injuries by:
- Providing adequate prenatal care. Adequate prenatal care is essential for preventing birth injuries. Regular prenatal checkups can help healthcare providers monitor the mother’s health and identify any risk factors.
- Monitoring during labor and delivery. During labor and delivery, healthcare providers should monitor the mother and baby closely for any signs of distress. If necessary, they should intervene promptly to prevent complications.
- Considering a C-section delivery. In some cases, a C-section delivery may be necessary to prevent birth injuries. For example, if the baby is in the wrong position or is too large to pass through the birth canal, a C-section delivery may be the safest option.
- Using appropriate delivery tools. If a doctor uses forceps or vacuum extractors during delivery, they must use them properly to prevent injuring the baby.
- Properly training the team. Healthcare providers should receive adequate training to ensure that they can identify and manage risk factors for birth injuries and know how to provide effective treatment for infants injured during birth.
- Promptly treating birth injuries. If damage occurs, immediate treatment is essential for ensuring the best possible outcome for the infant. Treatment may include medication, surgery, physical therapy, or other interventions.
How Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers Can Help
If you or your child has suffered a birth injury, it’s essential to seek legal representation from a medical malpractice firm. An experienced attorney can help you understand your legal options and hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions. In addition to seeking legal recourse, working with healthcare providers is vital to ensure your child receives the appropriate medical care and support. With proper care and treatment, many infants recover from birth injuries and live healthy, happy lives.
To schedule a free consultation, call us at 317-566-9600, 765-865-9300, or 812-566-2600, or complete our online inquiry form to schedule an appointment* with one of our health professional attorneys to review your case. We hope to hear from you if you were harmed through medical treatments or neglect. We have offices in Indianapolis, Kokomo, and Bloomington to serve you.
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