Birth injuries are damages that occur from a traumatic delivery. It could also occur during the transition through the birth canal.
Some injuries don’t require serious medical attention, some are more urgent. Delivery isn’t an easy process for any women; this is one of the reasons why cesareans became popular. In the past, they were very high risk, but thanks to modern medicine, the procedure has been made safer and easier.
Birth injuries, however, remain a risk after childbirth. Injuries can be caused by either the mother or medical practitioners and can have an impact on a child’s life. This is why there are lawyers who can help you argue a birth injury lawsuit if the injury is caused by hospital staff. This way, you will get paid damages to provide for your child.
Birth injuries can be caused by a variety of factors. Some are understandable and can be prepared for, others, not so much.
Factors Leading to Birth Injuries
Various conditions contributing to birth Injuries can result in high health risks. These factors, if identified early, can be avoided. They are:
The Maternal Conditions Surrounding Childbirth
A mother’s pelvis may not have the appropriate shape and size which allows for safe delivery. Being trapped in the birth canal for too long reduces the baby’s oxygen flow, which results in a wide range of issues. A difficult labor can also be due to an awkwardly positioned fetus. Another maternal factor is prolonged labor. This puts the baby at risk of a range of birth injuries.
The Conditions of the Infant After Birth
Babies that are more than 8 pounds and 13 ounces are vulnerable to birth injuries. If your baby is born prematurely, the baby’s muscles and nervous systems are likely to be underdeveloped, leading to physical anomalies. Babies born in an unusual position, for example, a breech birth, when the baby is born feet first, are at high risk of birth injuries.
This occurs during delivery. This could be the fault of a doctor or nurse, or unprofessional handling of equipment, like the forceps.
Most Common Birth Injuries in Medical Practices
Birth injuries, as noted above, occur during childbirth. Some injuries only present, or occur after childbirth. Some of the most common ones include:
1. Fractured Collarbones
This is characterized by a break in the bone which connects the breastbone and the child’s shoulder. It often occurs during a complicated delivery. The symptoms of this include broken collarbones, swelling, stiffness and inability to move the shoulder. Newborns will be unable to move their shoulder and arm until the fracture has healed.
This is the bleeding and accumulation of blood beneath the newborn’s scalp. It usually occurs beneath the cranial bone. The bump may show hours after birth, and while the blood accumulated will clear up in a few months, the health risks can be long lasting. Cephalohematoma can be caused by minor trauma, which could be a result of prolonged labor, the prolonged second stage of labor, weak uterine contractions, unusual fetal presentation, multiple pregnancies, etc. All these could lead to infections, jaundice, anemia, skull fracture, and calcification.
3. Facial Paralysis
This is a defect that occurs at birth because of prolonged pressure on the infant’s face. This pressure occurs during childbirth and can damage facial nerves. Paralysis is common during vacuum extraction or when the doctor uses forceps to assist in the birth. The symptoms are facial weakness, facial droop and difficulty in making facial expressions, pain in the jaw, behind the ear, headache, loss of taste, and one eye remaining closed. It is primarily nerve damage.
This is the bleeding in a baby’s skull. It could be the result of a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which happens when the eyes’ blood vessels burst. It is also caused by pressure during childbirth. Another type is the intracranial hemorrhage, or brain bleeds, which could be a result of oxygen deprivation and birth trauma. The symptoms are decreased muscle tone, excessive sleeping, lethargy, weak latching to mother’s breast, and irregular breathing.
5. Oxygen Deprivation or Hypoxia
This occurs during delivery, and can be the result of the doctor’s failure to properly monitor the child before birth. It can also occur from the baby spending too much time in the birth canal. Hypoxia can affect a specific part of the body, or the entire body. It usually leads to cognitive challenges, and a reduction in a child’s motor control. A newborn may also present with cyanosis on the skin, as well as a dangerously high heart rate. Oxygen deprivation could lead to loss of consciousness, seizures, coma, complications in the brain stem, and death.
6. Brachial Plexus
This is a nerve injury located in the newborn’s head, upper spine down to the neck, shoulders and arms. In this network of nerves, damaging or stretching them in any way can cause damage. The damage could be temporary, permanent or debilitating. In extreme cases, parts of the body can be dislodged from the spinal cord. It is a birth injury that occurs during delivery. Minor injuries include stingers or burners. These are characterized by a burning sensation or electric shock in the arm, followed by weakness and numbness. The effects could last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. A more severe version of this is the rupturing of the nerves, leading to serious spinal injuries and disabilities.
7. Perinatal Asphyxia
This is when there is an oxygen deficiency in the blood. Insufficient oxygen before birth could be caused by the compression of the umbilical cord. It could also be the result of the absence of the umbilical cord in the cervix before the baby is delivered, meconium aspiration syndrome (when a baby inhales a mix of amniotic fluid and meconium which is their first feces), premature birth, and other reasons. It is also caused by the placenta separating from the uterus, anemia, low oxygen in the mother’s blood before birth, and high or low blood pressure during delivery. The symptoms of perinatal asphyxia include abnormal fetal heart rate or low blood pH levels, abnormal skin tone, weak heart rate, seizures, poor circulation, difficulty breathing, weak reflexes, poor circulation, low blood pressure, lack of urination, and abnormal blood clotting.
8. Cerebral Palsy
Out of every 1,000 newborns, two to three have cerebral palsy. This is characterised by a lack of motor skills, weak or failing muscles, and muscle spasms. Cerebral palsy is the result of damage to the brain, usually when the vitals of the mother aren’t properly monitored. It could also be caused by severe hypoxic episodes or unregulated fetal distress. Cerebral palsy can lead to learning disabilities, visual and hearing impairment, speech impediments, and other related issues. As it does revolve around the brain, it could affect the child in the long term. Cerebral palsy could also lead to seizures, joint issues, and changes in the spine. The basic types of cerebral palsy are stiff muscles, uncontrollable movement, and poor balance or lack of coordination.
9. Caput Succedaneum
This is when there are swellings on the scalp or parts of the scalp. It is caused by the pressure from the vagina wall or uterus during the child’s delivery. Lack of pushing as well as the use of forceps or vacuum are also responsible for this injury. If a membrane is ruptured, additional pressure is placed on the baby’s head. Symptoms include puffiness beneath the scalp’s skin, swollen and soft skin.
10. Spinal Cord Injuries
This occurs in 5% of all infants. 60 to 75% of spinal cord injury sufferers report their injury in their neck area, 20% in their upper back or chest area, and 5 to 20% in the lower back. It is one of the most severe birth injuries caused by the forceful use of forceps. The use of forceps may cause nerve damage with symptoms such as loss of sensation, weak reflexes, and loss of muscle movement. More severe symptoms include difficulty breathing, partial, or complete loss of feeling in the chest, arms, or legs, and the loss of bowel and bladder functions.
The above listed are the most common types of birth injuries in medical practices. Some of these injuries are more severe than others. It is therefore vital to carefully monitor a newborn after birth.
It is also advisable to take your baby for regular medical checkups after you have taken them home. In more serious cases, it may be best for your baby to stay in the hospital until their health has improved.
Mo Mulla is a work from home dad who enjoys reading and listening to music, He loves being a dad and husband to a growing family. He also loves writing about his passions and hopes to change the world, 1 blog post at a time!
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