Childbirth Injury

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Childbirth injuries generally occur when an otherwise normal labor becomes difficult or complicated. There are factors and signs that may indicate to the physician that the labor will be become more complicated, either for the mother, the baby, or both. When the baby is overly large or the mother's birth canal is narrow, there is a greater chance of a stalled delivery. Babies that are premature and born before 37 weeks have a much greater chance of having a childbirth injury; therefore, exact dating of the pregnancy using ultrasound technology is beneficial. Childbirth injuries can also occur when the baby is in breech presentation (feet first), as the doctor will have a difficult time maneuvering the child through the birth canal.

Caput succedaneum is one of the minor childbirth injuries that can occur during a long and complicated labor and delivery. With caput succedaneum, the baby's scalp swells and may bruise due to the pressure from the uterus or vaginal wall during a head-first delivery. A prolonged delivery can contribute to this condition. Fortunately, this is one of the more minor childbirth injuries that can occur and will generally clear up on its own a few days following birth.

In a delivery where the physician needs to use special instruments, such as forceps or a vacuum, the infant is much more likely to sustain childbirth injuries. With a forceps-assisted delivery, the baby will most likely have bruises and scrapes from the metal tongs inserted around its head. Infants that have been delivered using vacuum extraction may also have scrapes and bruises, but are also susceptible to a more dangerous condition called cephalohematoma. Cephalohematoma is an area of bleeding between the bone and its fibrous covering. It appears several hours after birth as a raised lump on the baby's head. Generally, the body absorbs the blood but depending on the size, babies may develop jaundice as the red blood cells break down.

A facial paralysis childbirth injury can also occur when forceps or a vacuum is used to help extract the baby from the birth canal. Due to the pressure used by the forceps or the vacuum, nerves in the baby's face may be permanently damaged causing problems with one or both eyes shutting improperly. If the nerves were only bruised, the condition will disappear but if the nerves were more damaged, surgery will be necessary to repair the problem.

The most common childbirth injury is a fractured clavicle or collar bone as a result of the excessive force doctors may need to assist a hindered delivery. During the course of their pulling, they may accidentally fracture the fragile bone. The fracture may cause the infant to have a difficult time moving his or her arm and may require that it be bound until a complete healing occurs.

Brachial palsy can occur when the brachial plexus, a group of nerves that supplies feeling and movement to the arms and fingers, is injured. It is most common when there is difficulty delivering the baby's shoulder, called shoulder dystocia. An infant may lose the ability to flex and rotate the arm. If the injury caused bruising and swelling around the nerves, movement should return within a few months. Tearing of the nerve may result in permanent nerve damage. It is at that point that a doctor specializing in the conditions associated with brachial palsy injuries may need to be called in to best help the child.

Childbirth injury is not something that would occur naturally. It is the result of a difficult labor, and the extra measures a physician may need to take in order to help the child be born. Physicians that use too much force or are not properly trained in using the proper equipment may unintentionally harm the newborn. If your child has received a childbirth injury, it is beneficial that you contact an attorney to see if you have a justifiable case for compensation.


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