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What are the most common birth injuries?

Many expectant parents await their child’s birth with a mix of excitement and nervousness. Even when all the tests show that the mother and unborn child are healthy, the birthing process itself can involve several components that are out of a parent’s control.

One concern parents may have involves the possibility of the newborn suffering a birth injury.

Injuries can be minor or severe

Some of the most common birth injuries are minor and will resolve on their own. For example, an infant may show bruising or forceps marks on his or her face or head. The baby may also have minor swelling around his or her scalp or broken blood vessels in his or her eyes.

The trauma of passing through the birth canal can be enough to cause these injuries. However, these injuries may be more severe when doctors used tools like forceps or vacuum extraction to assist with the birth.

Some more severe birth injuries that could occur, include:

  • Brachial plexus injuries, such as Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy, which occurs when the nerves responsible for moving the arm and hand are injured
  • Cephalohematoma, which involves bleeding between the scull and its fibrous covering and can lead to jaundice
  • Facial paralysis, which happens when a nerve on the baby’s face is bruised or torn
  • Fractures, which usually occur to the collarbone during a difficult breech delivery
  • Brain injuries, which usually occur as a result of oxygen deprivation during a prolonged labor or as a result of umbilical cord issues
  • Caput succedaneum, which involves severe swelling in an infant’s scalp and a risk of jaundice and kernicterus

When doctors cause harm, parents can hold them accountable

Many factors can cause birth injuries. Large babies may have a high risk of experiencing a birth injury. Maternal obesity can also be a factor, as well as the size and shape of the mother’s pelvis or a prolonged labor. A child being born prematurely or born breech can also increase the risk. However, these risk factors are not always to blame.

Sometimes, medical malpractice causes birth injuries. This may be the case if a doctor or other medical professional made a mistake that resulted in a preventable birth injury. Medical professionals may have missed something they shouldn’t have missed, failed to take appropriate and timely actions or neglected to perform routine assessments, among other errors.

It can be difficult to tell when an infant’s injuries resulted from medical malpractice and when something else caused the injuries. However, cases that could involve medical malpractice should be carefully evaluated because there may be ways to hold medical professionals responsible. This can not only provide the compensation needed to help raise a child with lasting injuries, but it can help prevent a similar situation from happening to another child.

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