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What Are the Most Common Birth Injuries?

The birth of your child should be a joyous occasion, but for some parents, the day of their child’s delivery is memorable for all the wrong reasons. No parent goes into the hospital expecting something terrible to happen to either baby or mother, but when doctors and medical facilities make serious mistakes, anything could happen. Even though birth injuries aren’t terribly common, they occur far more than is acceptable. The doctor, nurses, medical staff, or healthcare facility itself could error in any number of ways, any of which could wind up harming your child during the delivery process.

Birth injuries can make delivery extremely painful for both the baby and the mother and can cause undue stress in an already stressful situation. Also, some birth injuries can be long-lasting or may cause permanent developmental damage. Certain birth injuries may impact the child’s mental development, physical development, or another aspect of their health. Not only is this news devastating for a new parent, it can have a significant bearing on your finances and the way in which you live your daily life, not to mention the effects on your child.

If your baby was harmed during or after birth and you think the medical staff or facility may be to blame, learn more about the most common birth injuries and find out how they’re caused.

When Do Birth Problems Occur?

Any birth could be dangerous, but there are some situations that make the birth process riskier than others. When the birth itself is more problematic, it could put additional stress on the doctors and nurses, which may lead to a bad judgment call or some other mistake.

Some factors that may make the birth process more stressful include:

  • Labor is longer than average
  • The baby is larger than average
  • If the mother has a narrow pelvis
  • The baby is in breech position
  • The baby is premature
  • The delivery requires the use of birth tools

Common Birth Injuries

1. Erb’s Palsy & Other Brachial Plexus Injuries

Brachial plexus injuries affect the bundles or nerves that control the baby’s arms. Located in the neck and shoulder region, these nerve groups can be significantly damaged during delivery if a doctor or midwife is not careful with the baby’s head or arm. It the baby’s shoulders are trapped in the mother’s pelvic region, the doctor will have to pull the baby from the right angle in order to wiggle the baby free. In some cases, the doctor may choose to use forceps or other birth tools to assist with this. Unfortunately, pulling at the wrong angle or pulling too hard could seriously damage the baby’s brachial plexus, resulting in loss of function in the arms or hands, either temporarily or permanently.

Erb’s palsy is one type of brachial plexus injury where the baby’s nerves around the neck and shoulder become severely damaged. Babies with Erb’s palsy experience a weakening or paralysis in the arms and hands.

2. Cerebral Palsy

When a baby’s brain is injured during birth, he or she may develop cerebral palsy, a serious brain injury. Cerebral palsy can be caused by abnormal brain development before the baby is born, or by some trauma inflicted to the baby’s head before or during delivery. This might occur if the baby is deprived of oxygen for too long, experiences some type of head trauma, or if the baby has jaundice that is left untreated.

Cerebral palsy causes a child’s brain to develop abnormally and can also result in poor muscle control, body movement, coordination, muscle tone, and reflexes. Most cases of cerebral palsy are not life-threatening, except in severe cases, but cerebral palsy is permanent and incurable.

3. Other Head Injuries

There are two key ways in which a baby might suffer a brain injury during birth. First, if the child is deprived of oxygen for too long, the lack of oxygen flow to the brain could cause temporary or permanent brain damage. In some cases, this could even lead to permanent disabilities and developmental delays.

Babies do not have the same hard, protective skull that older children and adults have. Their skulls are still developing even after birth, so they must be handled with extreme care. If the child’s head suffers some direct trauma, usually because of a birth instrument, the child might suffer a brain injury. Some doctors rely on the help of suction tools, vacuums, and forceps to assist with difficult births, using these tools to grasp the baby and pull him or her out for delivery. However, if the doctor is too forceful, these tools could bruise the baby’s head, causing significant harm.

4. Bone Fractures

Even though a baby’s bones are more flexible than an adult’s, they are still delicate and can be fractured with minimal effort. If the baby is not handled carefully during delivery and afterward, it could result in painful bone fractures.

5. Nerve Damage

The baby could suffer nerve damage if the doctor is not quick to relieve undue pressure. The baby is pushed, pulled, and squeezed during birth, but too much pressure or rough pulling could cause serious nerve damage, spinal problems, or even paralysis.

Did your baby suffer a serious birth injury? Our firm can help. Contact Tom Rhodes Law Firm P.C. today to discuss your options with our San Antonio personal injury attorneys.