Although most births occur with little to no issues, this is not always the case. When an issue occurs during the birth process, this can result in birth injuries.
There are certain factors that increase the risk. Most birth injuries heal over time, although some may have lifelong consequences.
Common types of birth injuries
According to Stanford Children’s Health, subconjunctival hemorrhage, which is blood vessel breakage in the eyes, is quite common. Due to the extraction process, common injuries include facial paralysis, bruising, forceps marks and caput succedaneum. Brachial palsy, which is injury to the nerves that supply the hands and arms, occurs when there is difficulty delivering the shoulder. Other common injuries include cephalohematoma and fractures, more frequently of the collarbone.
The majority of these injuries heal on their own within days or weeks. More severe injuries may require special exercises, therapy or even surgery.
Risk factors for birth injuries
According to the National Institutes of Health U.S. Library of Medicine, risk factors generally fall into three groups:
- Maternal factors: Things related to the mother that increase the chances of a difficult birth, and subsequent injuries, include obesity, extreme (high or low) age, first pregnancy and pelvic abnormalities.
- Fetal factors: The ideal presentation for labor is when the baby’s head comes out first and the spine is facing front. The chances of problems increase if the baby’s butt is first, known as breech, or if the presentation is transverse. Another factor is the baby’s size and birth weight.
- Mechanisms of delivery: If the baby is in a less-than-desirable position, or if there are other issues with labor, the obstetrician may need to use forceps, a vacuum or both to help get the baby out. These greatly increase the chances of birth injury.
If you or your baby suffered injuries during childbirth, it is important to consult with an attorney to determine if the injury was a result of negligence.