A birth injury is any damage sustained during the birthing process, most often occurring during transit through the birth canal. A difficult birth or an injury to the baby may occur because of the baby's size or the position of the baby during labor and delivery. Birth injuries may occur, also, if the birth canal is too small or the fetus is too large (this sometimes occurs when the mother has diabetes). The rate of birth injuries is much lower than in previous decades, but birth injuries do still happen and the results can often be devastating to the life of the child. Birth injuries are one of the most common forms of medical malpractice.
Some of the resulting injuries of difficult births and birth's with physician error include:
· Facial paralysis: During labor or birth, pressure on a baby's face may cause the facial nerve to be injured. Forceps may also cause this. The injury is often seen when the baby cries for the first time as there is no movement on the side of the face with the injury and the eye can not close.
· Fractures: Fractures of the clavicle (collarbone) is the most common fracture during labor and delivery. The clavicle may break when there is difficulty delivering the baby's shoulder or during a breech birth.
· Erb's palsy (also known as brachial plexus): Erb's palsy occurs when the brachial plexus (group of nerves that supplies the arms and hands) is injured. This happens often when there is dystocia. Tearing of the nerve may result in permanent nerve damage. A newborn with Erb's palsy will have his arm straight down at his side and will not move it and sometimes the arm may be slightly turned with a bent wrist and straight fingers.
· Cerebral palsy: CP is a permanent and irreversible crippling condition that affects the brain and central nervous system. Possible causes of CP during the birth process are unrecognized or untreated signs of fetal distress; the baby being stuck in the birth canal because of its size or position; placenta being prematurely sheared by the birth process; and untreated umbilical cord compression.
The birth of a child is supposed to be one of the most joyous occasions in an adult's life, and most deliveries go smoothly and as expected. However, complications do arise during pregnancy and delivery, and these problems may result in serious and long-term injury to your newborn baby. If the harm to your baby was unavoidable, it is important to be aware of your legal rights regarding the birth of your newborn.