One in every nine thousand newborns is afflicted with some sort of birth injury. These are incurred by the damage of the physical pressure experienced during the birthing process. And while newborn delivery and obstetric expertise make significant advancements each year, complications and consequential injuries still arise. Many newborns endure minor injuries that will typically repair on their own. However, some can result in more severe damage, such as that to the baby’s nerves or bones. As you anticipate the birth of your child, it is necessary to take note of the risks you face and discuss your options with your physician.
Risk factors for birth injuries:
- The baby is exceptionally large. Typically, a fetus that is 10-11 pounds or more has a higher risk of birth injury.
- The baby is breech. About three to four percent of pregnancies result in a breech fetus. This indicates that the child is faced upward so that its feet are pointed toward the birthing canal.
- The baby is born prematurely. This suggests that the baby is smaller than average and therefore, at a higher risk of injury.
- Sometimes, the mother’s pelvis shape and size can play a role in the difficulty of natural delivery.
- A long or difficult labor may increase the risk of injury.
- If the mother is significantly overweight, birth injuries are more likely to occur.
- Devices such as forceps or a vacuum device can cause injury. These are more rarely used in modern medicine practices. However, they are still involved in some cases.
The most common birth injuries:
The natural delivery of a child may be met with various complications and consequential birth injuries. These are distinguished from congenital conditions with which a child might be born as they take place, not in the development of the fetus, but in their birthing process.
- Clavicle Fracture. The clavicle, or what is more commonly known as the collarbone, can be fractured during birth. This injury typically results in pain over the fracture site but is most often healed on its own. Young babies’ bones heal quickly, so treatment typically only requires a few weeks.
- Brachial Plexus Injuries. Located just beneath the collar bone, the brachial plexus is a grouping of nerves that extends from the neck, down the arm. Injury to these nerves is caused by pulling on the head and arm in opposite directions during delivery. The results from the injury, however, are not severe. While it may cause weakness in one arm, the child will typically experience a swift recovery in a matter of weeks.
- Growth Plate Fractures. Growth plates are made of softer cartilage and are more prone to undergoing breaks. While few signs of injury will typically arise on an x-ray, fractures can be detected by swelling at one end of a leg or arm bone. Once again, these are generally healed with time and careful protection over the injured area.
While these most common birth injuries typically heal with time, some lead to enduring complications. If your child was injured during the birthing process and you believe that negligence was involved, do not hesitate to reach out to us at Raynes and Erickson. We are prepared to provide you with expert legal consultation and guidance in this time of need.