Understanding Birth Injuries

In most cases, the delivery of a baby is uncomplicated. Both the newborn and the mother come through the process safely. However, things occasionally go wrong during labor and delivery, and the baby can experience serious injury as a result. Fortunately, changes in obstetrical techniques have made birth injuries less common than they once were. Nevertheless, an injury that is serious enough can affect the newborn child for some time following birth, perhaps even the rest of his or her life.

What Is the Difference Between a Birth Injury and a Birth Defect?

A birth defect is an abnormality that occurs while the baby is developing in the womb. It may occur because of a genetic problem or a damaging substance that the baby was exposed to, such as a drug or medication. Birth defects only rarely result from inadequate health care. A birth injury, on the other hand, is one that occurs during labor and delivery specifically because of physical pressure during the process. A birth injury is more likely to result from mistakes on the part of a healthcare provider, although this is not always the case.

What Are Some of the Most Serious Birth Injuries?

Not all birth injuries are serious. Many heal on their own and cause no lasting damage. However, there are some that are extremely serious.

A complicated delivery can cause bone fractures. The baby’s collarbone is particularly vulnerable to this type of injury. Treating the fracture generally requires immobilization to allow the bone fragments to knit back together, which is stressful for parent and child alike. Fortunately, bone fractures usually heal completely.

Another type of serious injury that can result from birth trauma is damage to nerves. If the baby’s shoulder becomes wedged under the mother’s pelvis, it can cause stretching or tearing of the nerves of the brachial plexus in the neck, which can cause dysfunction of the hand and arm. The nerves of the face can also be damaged, especially if the doctor uses forceps or vacuum assistance to deliver the baby. This can cause paralysis on one side of the face that could be permanent if the nerve damage is severe enough.

Sometimes the baby doesn’t get enough oxygen during birth. This can cause damage to the brain and result in conditions like cerebral palsy.

To be able to bring a personal injury case for a birth injury against a doctor, you need to be able to prove that your doctor failed in his or her duty of care and your baby came to harm as a result. To find out if you have a case, contact a personal injury lawyer, like the office of The Law Firm of Frederick J. Brynn, P.C.