Though the U.S. offers advanced medical care, birth injuries still occur. It is estimated that there are about 6-8 injuries per 1000 births, and they account for less than 2 percent of all neonatal deaths. Generally, a birth injury refers to any injury or birth trauma which occurs to the baby during the birthing process. Such an injury could be due to mechanical instruments used by the healthcare provider during delivery of the baby such as forceps or a vacuum.
In addition to mechanical forces, other factors such as the large size of a baby, position of the baby, prolonged labor, the mother’s stature and prematurity can add complexity to an already complex process. Now-a-days monitoring the health of the mother and baby prior to delivery through technologies such as ultrasonography and fetal monitoring have dramatically reduced the risk of harm to both the mother and baby. Furthermore, alternatives such as a Cesarean section are available. Nevertheless, mechanical instruments such as forceps and scalpels are still used and can result in abrasions and lacerations requiring suturing which can lead to an infection.
Other examples of birth trauma that may occur during delivery include laryngeal nerve injury wherein due to the head movement the laryngeal nerve is damaged leading to vocal cord paralysis; spinal cord injury due to excessive rotation during breech deliveries; newborn clavicle fracture or long bone; and soft tissue injury. In some cases, the baby can sustain intra-abdominal injury wherein hemorrhaging and damage to internal organs can result in the untimely death of the baby.
A birth injury can be a traumatizing experience for all involved, particularly the parents of the baby. The injuries that a baby can sustain may be debilitating and life-long requiring the child to get special attention. The economic burden can devastate the family. Anyone interested in learning more about his or her legal options may want to contact a birth injury lawyer for more information.
Source: Medscape, “Birth Trauma,” Laroia Nirupama, Accessed October 2014