Nobody expects a birth injury. At a rate of 7 injuries per 100,000 births, it’s tempting to think that birth injuries are something that happens to other people. The reality is that birth injuries can impact any family. However, researching these common birth injuries every mother should know provides an opportunity to take preventative measures and notice an injury as early as possible.
While forceps are only used in 1% of vaginal deliveries, forceps marks are extremely common. Any forceps-assisted delivery is likely to cause bruising or a U-shaped impression on the baby’s head or face.
The mere sight of a bruised newborn causes many new parents to panic. With very few exceptions, these marks disappear within two days of birth. So long as the marks go away within a few days, this injury is merely a consequence of using forceps.
Any C-section presents a risk to the baby, especially an emergency C-section. Doctors must take great care in making an incision. Cutting too deep or too quickly, especially in active labor, could injure the baby.
A laceration at birth can wreak terrible consequences. An open wound during delivery could mean stitches and months of antibiotics. Likewise, an especially unlucky stroke of the knife could cause lasting nerve damage and palsy.
Cephalohematoma is another common result of a fetal laceration, resulting in swelling at the top of the baby’s head. Severe cases of this injury could result in a permanently distorted cranium and several blood diseases.
Roughly 8 in 100,000 babies experience a fracture during delivery. Any forceful pulling or pressure, especially on the baby’s limbs, can cause a fracture. The baby’s bones and muscles are very small and provide little resistance. Fractures are most common in breech births.
The vast majority of infant fractures heal within a week or two. Complications are unlikely, though the baby may need a splint to stabilize the bone. While they heal quickly, this type of birth injury is wholly preventable, even in the case of breech births.
Erb’s palsy occurs when forceful pulling on a baby’s arms causes the nerves to stretch, tear, or even rip apart. Depending on the extent of the damage, the baby might suffer weakness, stiffness, or paralysis in one arm. In extreme cases, the nerves might become detached from the spinal cord, resulting in permanent loss of use in one arm.
The long-term consequences of Erb’s palsy depend on the extent of the damage. Stretched nerves often heal quickly. Torn nerves may heal, but the baby may retain mild motor issues. A ripped nerve or one torn from the spine will require surgery and the baby may never recover full use or range of motion.
Roughly 20% of all people with cerebral palsy developed the condition as the result of a birth injury. Cerebral palsy is one of the more common birth injuries and one every parent should know. This birth injury occurs when a baby suffers from brain damage during delivery.
Cerebral palsy has an enormous impact on mobility and mental development. Roughly 30% of all people with cerebral palsy have extreme movement difficulties and require mechanical assistance. While symptoms depend on the extent of the brain damage, people with cerebral palsy often face speech impediments and mental disabilities.
When labor comes to a halt, the baby begins to asphyxiate. There’s no telling exactly how a lack of oxygen will affect a baby’s brain, but asphyxiating babies lose color as brain cells die. If doctors don’t act fast enough, the baby will likely die.
Asphyxiation impacts every child differently. Most often, it results in cognitive damage that isn’t apparent until months or years later. This is known as a latent birth injury and can be an unexpected and heartbreaking surprise years after a birth complication.
Parents of children who experienced birth complications should watch for the signs and speak to an attorney when they believe the birth injury to be a result of medical malpractice.
If your child suffered a birth injury as a result of negligent delivery methods or medical malpractice, you might have a case. If you’d like an experienced Cincinnati medical malpractice attorney from the Moore Law Firm to evaluate your case, please don’t hesitate to send us an email or call (513) 232-2000.