When a baby becomes injured during the birthing process, the newborn is said to have suffered a birth trauma or injury. Many of these injuries are common, but thankfully nearly all of them heal or correct themselves quickly with no further issue. However, not every birth injury does. Some can leave your child weak, or facing physical or mental limitations.
In this post, we share four of the more dangerous birth injuries that can occur in traditional hospital-setting deliveries. If you feel your infant has suffered or is suffering as a result of a preventable birth injury, it may be in your best interest to discuss with a New York medical malpractice attorney.
Because if your infant suffers a preventable birth injury that results in long-term damage, you may need to pursue a medical malpractice suit. Medical treatment and temporary or permanent care can be financially debilitating, and a suit may help ensure your family’s stability in the wake of unexpected circumstances.
Arm Nerve Damage (Brachial Palsy)
When the group of nerves reaching from your baby’s spine into the neck and arms (the brachial plexus) experiences trauma during vaginal delivery, he or she can temporarily lose the ability to move the affected arm. If the area is bruised and swollen, movement usually returns after a few months, but a tear can cause permanent nerve damage.
Generally, this type of injury occurs when a stressful delivery leads to a physician pulling or tugging too hard when trying to get the baby out. There are a number of common maneuvers available to doctors which significantly reduce the risk of this birth injury, and most cases are due to medical negligence.
Brain Injury (due to Birth Asphyxia)
Cerebral palsy and chronic seizures are both widely known results of birth asphyxia – the condition in which the brain is deprived of oxygen and blood flow either before, during, or directly after birth. The injury can prevent the baby’s cells from properly expelling acids which, depending on duration, can lead to permanent damage or loss of life.
Most medical birthing facilities can perform a c-section within a half-hour, but doing it within 15 minutes significantly reduces the risk of brain damage. Not recognizing early warning signs at all, or waiting to address them, can cause catastrophic injuries to an infant’s vital organs.
Otherwise known as a clavicle fracture, a break in the collarbone can occur when you are having difficulty delivering. Of the rare cases where this occurs, most happen while delivering the baby’s shoulder from breech positioning.
Be aware, however, some doctors approve of intentional clavicle fracture as an intervention to impacted shoulder. Yes, you read that right – they will intentionally break your baby’s clavicle on the off chance that they just think an impacted shoulder is possible.
You should ask your obstetrics physician their opinion on the matter to ensure you are both on the same page prior to encountering this emergency.
Impacted Shoulder (Shoulder Dystochia)
On rare occasions, even when a baby has perfectly presented, as the head is being delivered, the natural birthing process can cause one of the baby’s shoulders to become lodged against the mother’s pelvic bone. However, as mentioned above, it is more common that this injury is caused by the interventional use of forceps and or vacuum extractor.
Maternal complications include fourth-degree lacerations and hemorrhaging later, and the number one fetal complication arising from this condition is brachial plexus, up to 10 percent of which result in permanent injury.
No one is saying that delivery is easy – for mothers or medical providers. It can often be long and arduous, and result in surprises that must be dealt with in a flash to reduce the chances of serious injury or death. Moreover, birth injuries can occur despite the absolute best efforts of the most skilled and knowledgeable medical team around.
However, your baby – and your family – should not have to suffer and pay due to the mistakes of someone whose duty it was to protect you. If you believe your infant was injured during birth due to negligence, you owe it to yourself, your child, and future families to pursue a claim and shine a light on unacceptable errors.