According to data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, there are more than 1.5 avoidable birth injuries per 1,000 births. Injuries range from broken collarbones and infections, to head trauma and other newborn injuries. Mothers may also be the victim of an injury during the childbirth process, such as experiencing a perineum tear or damage to birth-related organs.
In the case of birth injuries, any risk is significant. When it comes to the health and safety of a mom and a newborn child, the best possible outcome is perfect health and zero injuries. Whether you’re an expectant mom, you’ve just had a baby and someone was injured, or you have a loved one who is pregnant or has had the stress of a birth injury, here is what to be aware of.
Types of Birth Injuries
Types of birth injuries may include some of the most common ones named by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Bone fractures
- Brain injury
- Burst blood vessel in the eye
- Cerebral palsy
- Facial nerve damage
- Shoulder dystocia
- Swelling of the scalp
Birth injuries are caused by a wide variety of factors. Some will depend on the professional who is administering the birthing process, some will be caused by timing, and some will be caused by equipment that is used. Some factors that may be present in birth injuries include:
- Delayed birth: Labors that are particularly long, spanning more than 18 hours, may put extensive pressure on a baby’s brain and elevate a newborn’s blood pressure.
- Incorrect medication: Improper type of medication or improper dosage of medication that is given to a mother may result in harm to her or the baby.
- Inexperience or faulty procedures: For people who decide to go a more natural route with the birthing process, such as those who opt for an at-home birth with a midwife, they may become victims of birth injuries due to questionable experience or birthing methods. Even the most experienced medical professionals who are assisting in birthing may make a mistake based on a lack of judgment. Inappropriately pulling or twisting a baby during birthing can cause an injury.
- Oxygen deprivation: Oxygen deprivation that is caused by a factor such as a prolapsed umbilical cord can cause damage to a new human that lasts a lifetime.
- Poor advice before the birth: A birth injury may start to form before a baby is even born, if a doctor or medical professional is giving an expectant mother incorrect advice or conducting the wrong testing before the birth.
There are other factors that can cause birth injuries, such as defective equipment, contamination, or plain haphazardness. Any negative result to a baby or mother during or after childbirth, which could have been prevented, results in a birth injury.
There have also been cases of severe birth injuries that cause seizures, brain hemorrhaging or comas, or that result in infant fatalities. Additionally, the use of instruments or a C-section delivery may result in obstetric trauma for the mother.
Some birth injuries will be instantly noticeable. If a newborn is discolored, is vomiting, is unresponsive, is bleeding, or is having trouble breathing, these could all be signs that could point to a long-term injury if left untreated. Other indicators of birth injuries may not show up until after mom and baby have left the hospital. For example, a baby who has trouble sucking its thumb or has trouble eating may be experiencing intellectual and developmental delays that are the result of a birth injury.
What to Do in Case of a Birth Injury
If the mother has undergone a difficult, long delivery, the cause may be medical negligence, which could have been prevented. If you or a loved one suspect this may be the case, it is vital to contact a medical malpractice attorney in Birmingham to learn what help is available to you. Birth injuries can have lifelong, meaningful impacts on entire families and can be extremely costly to deal with. You can protect your rights with professional help. A medical malpractice attorney can work with you to gather the evidence you need for a compelling case, so you can work to obtain the justice and peace you deserve.