Birth injury is considered rare, 6-8 injuries per every thousand live births. The concern is that when they do happen, they are extremely traumatizing and can often be prevented. Typically, the responsible persons involved include:
• Other healthcare workers
Any individual who is directly responsible for the health and safety of you and your baby may have caused a traumatic birth injury.
Types of Birth Injuries
Difficult or traumatic births can increase the chances of a birthing injury. Mistakes are much more likely to be made when the birth is already a difficult one. Larger babies and premature babies are more susceptible to injuries. A breech birth is also a complicating factor due to extra instruments being needed to perform the delivery. Misuse of any birthing tools can easily harm a fragile baby.
Some traumatic birth injuries include:
• Brain damage – This can be caused by a number of conditions before, during and after birth. One of the most common causes is lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain, or fetal hypoxia. This can cause lifelong disabilities.
• Spinal cord injury – Injury to a baby’s spinal cord can occur as the result of excessive force or misuse of instruments by the doctor during delivery.
• Cerebral palsy – This condition is also caused by oxygen deprivation or some other injury which effects brain function. The result is delays in child development, abnormal body movements, vision and hearing problems and lack of muscle control.
• Shoulder Dystocia – This injury occurs when the baby’s shoulder becomes stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone during delivery. The doctor uses excessive force trying to dislodge the baby and injury results.
• Erb’s Palsy – Caused by shoulder dystocia, this injury is the damaging of the nerves in the baby’s arm. It can lead to permanent limited movement or paralysis of the shoulder, arm and hand muscles.
It is the medical staff’s responsibility to be sure the baby has enough blood flow and oxygen to the brain during times of distress. If this does not happen, long-term and sometimes fatal injuries can occur. Prevention of further injury may also require a cesarean section. Delaying this decision can cause still further complication and injury.
If the use of vacuum extractors or forceps is required during the birth, improper use of these instruments can cause further injury. In these cases, the doctor may be guilty of medical malpractice.
Common errors for which doctors or other medical staff may be responsible for include:
• Difficult or prolonged labor. This is often due to a large baby.
• Failure to detect the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck
• Unreasonable delay in performing an emergency cesarean section
• Failure to test and treat health conditions during pregnancy
• Misdiagnosis of pre-delivery conditions
• Failure to recognize negative fetal signs
If your baby has suffered traumatic birth injury at the hands of a careless medical staff, you should contact a lawyer immediately to find out what your rights are. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries or those of your baby.