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The Most Common Birth Injuries and How They Occur

The birth process is complex. Medical professionals involved in the birthing process – doctors, midwives, nurses and others – are typically well-trained. In most cases, the mother and child fare well during and after birth. But sometimes, things go wrong. While some birth injuries are unavoidable, others are the result of medical malpractice.  A lawyer who specializes in dealing with birth injury cases can help you evaluate whether an injury to the child or the mother is the result of obstetrical negligence.

Common Birth Injuries

Common birth injuries include the following:

Brachial Plexus Birth Injury – Brachial plexus birth injury, also known as brachial plexus injury, is damage to the brachial plexus nerve. The brachial plexus is the set of five major nerve branches that connect the spinal cord to the small nerves that control the shoulders, arms, wrists and hands. This set of nerves is responsible for muscle movements and sensations in those areas. In a difficult delivery, the brachial plexus nerves may be compressed, stretched or torn when the baby’s shoulder becomes lodged in the birth canal, requiring external force for delivery. This birth injury occurs in one to three of every 1,000 births.

Oxygen Deprivation or Loss – A number of conditions are linked to oxygen deprivation or loss at birth, including cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Babies with these conditions can suffer from intellectual deficiencies, cognitive problems and developmental delays as they grow older. Often times, the doctor has an opportunity to perform the delivery sooner (by emergency C-section) and refuses to do so, even in the presence of fetal distress seen on the electronic fetal monitoring machine.

Fractures – Several types of fractures may occur during labor and delivery, including fractures of the clavicle (collarbone). The clavicle may break when there is trouble delivering the baby’s shoulder. A baby with a fractured clavicle will generally not move the arm on the side of the break but, in most cases, healing occurs quickly. As new bone forms, a lump on the clavicle often develops in the first several weeks.

Cephalohematoma – This injury results in bleeding between the skull bone and its fibrous covering. It often appears as a lump on the baby’s head several hours after childbirth.  Over the course of several months, the body reabsorbs the blood.

How Does Medical Negligence Lead to Birth Injuries?

Medical negligence often begins during pregnancy. Medical providers including obstetricians, maternal-fetal specialists and midwives, may fail to properly screen mothers for high-risk conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and other conditions.

During birth, the doctor can be negligent by:

  • Using excessive force to deliver the baby, resulting in nerve damage and broken bones
  • Failing to monitor the mother’s blood pressure because when it’s too low, there can be a lack of blood flow to the unborn child
  • Failing to properly monitor the baby’s heartbeat
  • Failing to detect fetal distress and timely perform a C-section

After pregnancy, there is still a chance medical negligence can occur if the medical provider fails to:

  • Control blood loss
  • Examine the baby for conditions such as jaundice
  • Monitor the baby’s oxygen levels
  • Monitor the mother’s blood pressure

When birth trauma occurs, it can be the result of medical malpractice. However, not all traumatic birth injuries are a result of negligence. Some are the result of unique factors related to the health or physiology of the mother or the infant. To win a malpractice case, the lawyer must prove that the injury was preventable and that the medical staff failed to provide the required standard of care.

Contact an Orlando Birth Injury Lawyer Today

Litigation involving infant birth trauma requires special skill, knowledge and compassion. Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm’s attorneys may be able to help recover compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering. Contact us today for a free and confidential legal consultation at wecare@hpslegal.com.