The birth of a child should be a joyous event, but certain risks come with these moments. Birth injuries, sometimes known as birth traumas, occur when the size or position of the newborn causes complications during delivery, according to Stanford Children’s Health. In situations like these, the baby, the mother, or both may face serious injury. The injury can have a long-term effect on the child as he or she develops.
The following is a breakdown of some of the most common and damaging birth injuries.
Bone Damage – Including Breaks or Fractures
Aside from crying – which is generally expected even from a healthy baby – newborns have few ways of communicating their injury. This is why bone fractures and breaks aren’t always apparent. Signs such as bruising or limited limb movement may indicate a bone injury. As the damage heals, a doctor will likely recommend a splint to aid in successful recovery.
Injury to the collarbone is the most common injury among newborns, according to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. This kind of damage generally occurs when a newborn is larger than average or the mother’s birth canal is narrow. The tools a doctor uses during delivery can also fracture a baby’s collarbone.
This birth injury occurs when too much pressure is applied to the baby’s face during delivery – perhaps due to the use of forceps. The result is facial nerve damage that prevents the baby from moving one side of his or her face. Sometimes this condition improves naturally over time, but in more severe cases, additional surgery might be necessary to correct the problem. If permanent nerve damage occurs, therapy may be needed.
This kind of injury is often easy to notice, as the baby won’t be able to move his or her eyelids, mouth, or another part of the face while crying, according to MedlinePlus.
This type of injury affects a newborn’s arms and hands. When the brachial plexus (a collection of nerves) is damaged during delivery, the baby will be unable to move certain arm muscles or experience pain in his or her limbs. If the damage is limited to the shoulder or elbows, the condition is known as Erb’s palsy, according to Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment options will range from the use of a splint to surgical solutions such as muscle and nerve transfers. In some cases, brachial plexus palsy will go away on its own.
Bone damages, brachial plexus palsy, and facial paralysis are just a few of the many potential birth injuries. Further examples include:
- Cephalohematoma: Pooling of the blood near the skull
- Caput succedaneum: Swelling of the scalp due to fluid buildup
- Subconjunctival hemorrhages: Broken blood vessels in the eyes
- Asphyxia neonatorum: Lack of oxygen
Some of these injuries are potentially fatal and others resolve on their own. However, no matter the severity of the damage, it’s important that you communicate openly with your doctor and voice any questions or concerns you may have. Your willingness to talk to your doctor just might help your baby avoid long-lasting health issues.
Finding Legal Help
Nearly 4 million babies are born each year in the United States. Unfortunately, deliveries don’t always go as smoothly as families hope.
Often the injury is simply the result of unavoidable conditions, such as the baby’s size. But it’s also possible for poor decision making by a doctor to cause lasting harm to the mother or newborn. If you or your child was injured due to a doctor’s negligence, contact a birth injury attorney immediately. This could be the first step toward receiving compensation for the trauma.