When a baby suffers an injury during birth, it can be a traumatic experience for the entire family. While some injuries can heal relatively quickly, others can have long-term – and in some cases lifetime – implications for the newborn child.
With the state of medical knowledge and technology today, many birth injuries that were common in the past can now be avoided with proper care. Unfortunately, this does not stop thousands of newborns from suffering injuries during childbirth every year. In this article, we highlight some of the most common types of birth injuries. If your baby suffered an injury during childbirth, we encourage you to contact us using the information below for a free consultation.
Common Birth Injuries in the U.S.
Brain injuries during childbirth can arise in a number of different ways, but one of the most common is a lack of oxygen supply to the brain. Anoxia, birth asphyxia, hypoxia, and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) are all conditions involving oxygen deprivation that can lead to serious brain injuries.
The single most-common form of birth-related brain injury is cerebral palsy (CP). CP results from oxygen deprivation, maternal and infant infections, and other complications that can – and typically should – be avoided.
Medical malpractice during childbirth can leave newborns with lacerations, bruises, muscle tears, and even broken bones. Skull fractures and cephalohematoma – bruising of the area between the brain and outer layers of the skin – are both common forms of birth injuries.
Brachial Plexus, Erb’s Palsy, and Klumpke’s Palsy
Brachial plexus is an arm injury suffered during delivery that can cause weakness and muscle damage, often leaving newborns unable to use their injured arms. Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy are two specific forms of brachial plexus. Erb’s palsy affects the upper arm and typically involves weakness or loss of feeling; however, in severe cases, infants’ arms can become paralyzed. Klumpke’s palsy affects the lower arm, wrist and fingers, and commonly results in paralysis.
Shoulder dystocia occurs when the fetus’s shoulder gets lodged behind the mother’s pelvis during delivery. This can be extremely dangerous for both mother and child since it delays the birthing process. Shoulder dystocia can lead to brain injuries, broken bones, brachial plexus, and respiratory complications.
If the mother has an infection, it is possible for the infection to be passed to her fetus during childbirth. Meningitis and strep infections are two of the most common examples.
Some of the most common birth injuries result directly from errors during the delivery process. When doctors and nurses negligently use forceps, vacuum extractors, and other tools, their negligence can cause injuries ranging from broken bones to hypertension.