After nine months of pregnancy and countless hours of labor, parents expect to be handed a healthy, screaming newborn. Sadly, more than 25,000 American children are born each year with a birth injury. It can be a frightening and confusing time if a baby is born with an injury. Parents may struggle with understanding what caused their child's injury, so read on to learn about common birth injuries and their causes.
What Exactly Is A Birth Injury?
A birth injury is defined as a trauma, such as broken bones, abrasions or other injuries that a baby suffers during labor and delivery. Not to be confused with a genetic condition, birth injuries are created by outside forces such as forceps, being in the breech position or the baby being too large for the birth canal and having to be removed by either operation or force.
Causes Of Birth Injuries
There are several types of birth injuries a baby may endure. Sometimes they are easily fixed, but in a few cases, they can be dangerous if not taken care of right away. A few common types of birth injuries are:
Fractures - This birth injury is typically seen when a child is in the breech position. The most common fracture is to the clavicle while the doctor is attempting to adjust the baby into the correct position to ease their birth. Shoulder and arm fractures may also occur if the newborn is treated roughly by the staff during delivery.
Caput Succedaneum - Caput Succedaneum is what happens when too much pressure is put on the baby during the birthing process. Parents may observe what appears to be bruising and swelling on their child's head. This is not a life threatening problem and should heal on its own.
Brachial plexus injury - Brachial plexus injury is a nerve condition that affects the shoulders, arms and hand. It is caused by a complicated labor and delivery. If the child has turned into the breech position, the labor becomes harder and the chances of nerves damage increases.
Perinatal Asphyxia - This injury happens when a baby does not get enough air during delivery. It can be caused by the mother being sedated and the baby is born too early, fractures, or caused by the equipment used by the doctor to remove a child who is stuck in the birth canal or is in the breech position.
When Birthing Tools Are The Cause Of The Injury
Sometimes, the incorrect use of birthing tools are the cause of a newborn's birth injury. This could be because of the use of forceps or a vacuum extraction tool. An infant can be hurt when the forceps are used too roughly, or if they are clamped onto places such as the head.
The FDA continues to strongly advise doctors to not use vacuum extraction tools as this can lead to internal bleeding, skull fractures, death and paralyzing conditions. Birthing tools should be used with caution and expertise to avoid injuries to babies.
Parents may be frightened and angry after learning their child has suffered an injury. Sometimes, there is no one to blame and in other cases, it can be the fault of the doctor. They may choose to sue, using a personal injury lawyer or malpractice lawyer, so they can adequately provide the care their child needs after being hurt during birth. Knowing these common birth injuries and their causes will help parents decide what the next step is for them and their newborn.