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 accountable for the injuries sustained. If you or your child has suffered from a birth injury, it’s crucial to seek legal representation from a trusted medical malpractice firm. In this blog post, we’ll explore the most common birth injuries and the importance of seeking legal recourse if medical negligence is a factor.
Types of Common Birth Injuries
There are several types of birth injuries that can occur during childbirth, and some of the most common ones include brain injuries, shoulder dystocia, brachial plexus injuries, and fractures.
- Brain injuries: Brain injuries during childbirth can occur due to a lack of oxygen in the baby’s brain. This can lead to conditions such as cerebral palsy, developmental delays, and other long-term neurological problems.1 Factors that may contribute to brain injuries during childbirth include prolonged labor, umbilical cord compression, failure to deliver a baby in fetal distress, or maternal infection.
- Shoulder dystocia: This is a birth injury that 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, in babies whose mothers have gestational diabetes, or in babies 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 these nerves are injured during childbirth, it can result in conditions such as Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy.3 These injuries may cause weakness, numbness, or paralysis in the affected arm.
- Fractures: Fractures during childbirth can occur when there is a difficult delivery, and the baby’s bones are put under too much pressure. The most common fractures during childbirth are collarbone fractures, which can occur in up to 2% of all vaginal deliveries.
Factors That Increase the Risk of Birth Injuries
While birth injuries can occur during any type of childbirth, certain factors can increase the risk of a birth injury. Some of the most common risk factors include:
- Prolonged labor: If labor lasts longer than usual, there is an increased risk of birth injuries. This is because prolonged labor can lead to the baby becoming distressed, which can cause oxygen deprivation and other complications.
- Difficult delivery: If the baby is in an unusual position or is too large to pass through the birth canal, it can increase the risk of birth injuries.
- Premature birth: Babies who are born prematurely are at a higher risk of birth injuries because their organs and other systems are not fully developed.
- Maternal health conditions: Maternal health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia can increase the risk of birth injuries.
- 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 can increase the risk of birth injuries due to the added stress and strain on the mother’s body and the babies.
- Inadequate prenatal care: Poor prenatal care can increase the risk of birth injuries because it can lead to undiagnosed health conditions or complications that could have been addressed earlier.
Prevention and Treatment of Birth Injuries
Fortunately, many birth injuries are preventable, and there are various ways to reduce the risk of their occurrence. In this section, we’ll share tips for preventing birth injuries, including:
- 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 that could lead to birth injuries.
- 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.
- C-section delivery: In some cases, a C-section delivery may be necessary to prevent birth injuries. For example, if the baby is in an abnormal position or is too large to pass through the birth canal, a C-section delivery may be the safest option.
- Use of appropriate delivery tools: If forceps or vacuum extractors are used during delivery, healthcare providers should ensure that they are used appropriately and that the baby is not injured in the process.
- Proper training for healthcare providers: Healthcare providers should receive adequate training to ensure that they can identify and manage risk factors for birth injuries and that they know how to provide effective treatment for infants who are injured during birth.
- Prompt treatment for birth injuries: If a birth injury does occur, prompt treatment is essential for ensuring the best possible outcome for the infant. Treatment may include medication, surgery, physical therapy, or other interventions.
If you or your child has suffered a birth injury, it’s important 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, it’s also important to work with healthcare providers to ensure that your child receives the appropriate medical care and support. With proper care and treatment, many infants are able to recover from birth injuries and go on to 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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