Birth Injuries Have Life-Long Consequences. You Deserve Life-Long Support.
Mothers and newborns suffer more than 432 injuries during childbirth every day, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. For every 1,000 babies born in the US, up to 8 will be injured during the labor or delivery process. That’s a huge problem, especially when you consider that all of these injuries could have been avoided.
When a newborn baby is deprived of oxygen, their organs often suffer permanent damage. Brain injuries are common, and can lead to severe neurological impairments and permanent disability.
Perinatal, or birth asphyxia can occur before, during or after delivery – although it often occurs when a doctor accidentally pinches or twists the umbilical cord. With proper birth management, many children can be saved from brain damage.
No matter the cause, a lack of oxygen during delivery can cause severe brain damage. A baby’s body can only compensate for a drop in oxygen momentarily; prolonged deprivation can lead to the complete death of brain tissue.
This condition, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, is a leading cause of cognitive impairment, developmental delay and impairment. Effective treatments are available, but doctors must act quickly.
Researchers once believed that birth asphyxia was the leading contributor to cerebral palsy, a common – but difficult – condition marked by partial or complete muscle paralysis. Today, we understand that cerebral palsy, even in individual cases, is more likely caused by a wide range of factors, asphyxia being only one possibility. Birth injuries, however, along with failures to diagnose maternal infection, are still considered a primary cause of this neuro-muscular impairment.
Traumatic Brain Damage
Oxygen deprivation is only one possible cause of brain damage in newborns. Physical trauma, often linked to the misuse or failure to use labor-assisting tools, are another.
Even in non-assisted deliveries, a doctor’s miscalculation can lead to significant neural impairment, bone fractures and nerve injuries. It’s a physician’s duty to identify when a difficult labor has become dangerous, and make crucial modifications if necessary.
Forceps Or Vacuum Delivery Injuries
While forceps and vacuum extractors are frequently used to ease difficult deliveries, these are delicate, complex instruments that must be clamped to an infant’s head – presenting a significant risk of bruising and cuts. Nerve damage and internal bleeding are also possible.
But babies aren’t the only patients threatened by the use of assistive technologies. Thousands of mothers have suffered wounds and lacerations due to the improper use of forceps, the Center for Advancing Health reports.
Brachial Plexus & Shoulder Dystocia
During difficult deliveries, some doctors are tempted to pull or stretch infants forcibly through the birth canal. A light tug may not cause permanent injury, but excessive pulling can strain the brachial plexus, a bundle of nerves that connect the spine to the arms.
Injuries to the brachial plexus are common in cases of shoulder dystocia, when a baby’s head has emerged but their shoulders remain lodged inside the mother’s pelvis.
Erb’s Palsy & Paralysis
Brachial plexus injuries can be minor or severe, causing symptoms from temporary weakness and burning pain to full arm paralysis.
Neonatal brachial plexus palsy, commonly known as Erb’s Palsy, is one of the most grave forms of this injury. Children with Erb’s Palsy can suffer from numbness and decreased strength in their affected arm, or total paralysis. Surgical operations, along with long-term physical therapy, are often necessary.
This little-known condition involves an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in a baby’s brain. While hydrocephalus has been linked to numerous genetic conditions, including spina bifida, traumatic head injuries sustained before or during delivery can block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid within the skull, leading to permanent brain damage.
After sustaining birth trauma, some children will be left with severe, and permanent, neural impairments.
Kernicterus & Jaundice
We’re often told that jaundice, a condition marked by yellow skin, is normal in newborns – and nothing to worry about.
Part of this common logic is true. Jaundice is fairly common, but inexpertly treated cases can quickly progress to become kernicterus, a rare and debilitating buildup of the bile pigment bilirubin. In severe cases, kernicterus can lead to permanent hearing loss, seizures and motor impairment.
Preeclampsia & High Blood Pressure
Up to 5% of pregnant women will develop preeclampsia, the National Institutes of Health says. This dangerous spike in blood pressure can lead to widespread organ damage and seizures, placing unborn infants directly in harm’s way.
But in the condition’s early stages, few women experience any symptoms of increased blood pressure. Rigorous and routine screening is a must for any discerning physician. In some cases, proactive treatment is the only way to avert tragedy.
Caesarean (C-Section) Injuries
While much has been made of the recent rise in “elective” c-sections, we shouldn’t forget that caesarean sections are often medically necessary surgical procedures – intended to avert disastrous harm to both mother and child.
In some instances, failure to order a c-section under the appropriate circumstances, like fetal distress, can be grounds for a birth injury malpractice lawsuit. C-sections themselves are medical procedures that present their own risks.