The term “birth injury,” by and large, describes any harm or trauma to a newborn during labor, during the delivery process, or shortly after childbirth. Many injuries are minor and quite natural. In fact, some will heal on their own without medical intervention. Others, however, can lead to severe complications, resulting in a disability.
Common Causes of Birth Injuries
Large newborn Regardless of gestational age, any fetus weighing more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces is considered larger than normal, increasing the chances of a difficult delivery, prolonged delivery, or injury to the baby during the delivery process.
Premature birth increases the chances of complications due partly to the potential that something went wrong during pregnancy to trigger early labor. Also, “preemies” haven’t yet fully developed, increasing neonatal health risks.
Breech presentation means the newborn wasn’t head-first in the birth canal, which would require medical intervention (i.e., repositioning the baby).
Difficult or long labor
When contractions, for example, aren’t strong enough to move the baby down the birth canal, it can lead to a longer and more difficult delivery process.
Mother’s birth anatomy
The size or shape of the pelvis or birth canal can sometimes contribute to a complicated delivery process.
When a mother is very overweight, it can lead to a larger than normal fetus. It can also lead to other complications during the delivery process.
With any surgical procedure, there’s always a risk of complications. Though birth injuries aren’t usually one of them (happening in just 1.1% of cesarean deliveries), they do occur.
During a difficult delivery, it’s quite possible for the delivery team to use vacuums or forceps to deliver the baby. Introducing a device into the delivery process comes with risk.
Other Causes of Birth Injuries
On occasion, delivery teams do make medical mistakes. Perhaps a delivery team member used an instrument incorrectly, causing an injury. Maybe the doctor failed to interpret the ultrasound correctly, leading to complications during delivery. As soon as a physician or delivery team deviates from the standard of care and causes harm to either the newborn or the mother, the situation could be considered negligence or malpractice.
Medications can also contribute to complications during labor or delivery and lead to birth injuries. If, for example, the need presents itself to induce labor, a mother may be prescribed Pitocin. The only problem with this medication is that it can result in stronger contractions. Stronger contractions can be difficult for the woman to manage, putting undue stress on the uterus muscles. Should a rupture occur, it can lead to injury to newborn and mother alike.
Types of Birth Injuries
Though it should go without saying, there are several different birth injuries that can occur during labor, during delivery, or shortly after birth.
- Swelling or bruising of the newborn’s head
- Bleeding underneath the newborn’s cranial bones
- Small blood vessel breakage in the newborn’s eyes
- Facial nerve injury
- Facial paralysis
- Clavicle or collarbone fracture
- Intracranial hemorrhage due to head injury
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) due to lack of oxygen or blood to the brain
- Cerebral palsy
- Erb’s palsy
- Klumpke’s palsy
- Brain damage
Many of these injuries are more common than others and not all are cause for alarm. But if you have any reason to believe you or your newborn has sustained a delivery injury or birth injury due to a medical error made by your delivery team, it’s best to consult with a birth injury malpractice lawyer.
The reasons for this are simple: A birth injury attorney can help you get the answers you need to understand what happened during the labor and delivery process, examine the actions taken by the delivery team, and then determine whether you have a viable case for a birth injury lawsuit.
Our team brings more than 150 years of combined experience and can align you with a birth injury attorney to suit your specific needs. Rest assured that your case will be in good hands.
If you’re in the Tulsa area and searching for a “birth injury lawyer near me,” please contact our legal team today. We’d be more than happy to answer any questions you might have