What Are The Most Common Birth Injuries in Childbirth?
Advocating for injured babies and families
The birth of a child should be an exciting time. Unfortunately, for many parents, their precious children are injured at birth due to the negligence of doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. At The Eisen Law Firm, our Cleveland birth injury attorneys are experienced in birth injury claims and aggressively pursue all avenues of recovery against negligent medical professionals.
What are the most common traumatic birth injuries?
Birth injuries range in severity. A baby may suffer a mild injury that completely heals in a week or two, or the baby may suffer serious injuries that cause permanent impairment or even death. Some of the most common birth injuries include:
- Fractures: A fracture in the collarbone (called the “clavicle”) is one of the most common birth injuries a baby may suffer. These fractures are especially common during difficult deliveries, including breech deliveries. Fortunately, these fractures typically heal fairly quickly.
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage: Subconjunctival hemorrhages occur when tiny blood vessels in the baby’s eyes burst. Redness may be apparent in the whites of the baby’s eyes. Vision usually is not impaired, and the redness typically fades in a couple of weeks.
- Bruising or forceps marks: Some babies have bruising simply because of the birthing process. It is not uncommon for the baby’s face or head to be bruised from pressing against the mother’s pelvic bone or other tissues.
- Caput succedaneum: This condition results in swelling of the soft tissues in the baby’s scalp. Usually, the swelling goes down in just a few days. This condition is more common in babies who were delivered with vacuum extraction.
- Cephalohematoma: A raised lump may appear a few hours after birth with this condition. A cephalohematoma (also sometimes written without the “o” as “cephalhematoma”) results when bleeding occurs underneath one of the baby’s cranial bones. Typically, the body reabsorbs the blood, and the bump will disappear by three months. However, some babies may develop jaundice and other serious complications if the cephalohematoma is especially large.
- Facial paralysis: In some births, pressure on the baby’s face results in paralysis if one of the facial nerves is injured. The use of forceps during delivery has also been associated with facial paralysis. If the nerve was merely bruised, it should heal in a few weeks. However, if the nerve was crushed or severed, the baby may need to undergo surgery and may have a permanent paralysis.
- Brachial palsy: The brachial plexus is the group of nerves that communicates with the arms and hands. If a baby suffers brachial palsy, this group of nerves is injured. Brachial palsy often occurs when there are issues delivering the baby’s shoulders. When a baby’s shoulders get stuck during delivery, it is called a “should dystocia.” If the problem isn’t handled correctly, injury to the brachial plexus can result. Following birth, the baby may be unable to move the arm in certain ways. Although the condition sometimes heals in a few weeks, in severe cases there may be significant and permanent nerve damage.
- Neonatal falls: Unfortunately, sometimes newborns suffer very serious falls at the time of birth or while in newborn nurseries. Babies may be dropped by delivering obstetricians, by obstetrical technicians, or by nurses who feed and change the babies before they leave the hospital. These falls/drops can result in injuries ranging from minor skull fractures that heal themselves to brain bleeds that result in significant, permanent injuries. Sometimes these falls are not reported to parents and come to light only when a parent notices bruising on the baby that wasn’t there immediately after birth.
Of course, this is just a sampling of the traumatic injuries that may occur when a child is born.
How do I know if a medical professional injured my baby?
It is not always immediately apparent that a baby’s birth injuries were due to the negligence of a medical professional. After all, birth inherently involves some trauma, as the baby goes through the birth canal. So, how do you know that a medical professional actually did something wrong?
If your child was injured in any way at birth, it is wise to consult with a medical malpractice attorney. Experienced medical malpractice attorneys are able to review medical records and other documents and offer their opinions as to whether malpractice occurred. Often, doctors and other medical professionals try to “explain away” a baby’s injuries, but a careful review of the records may tell a different story.
Contact our Cleveland birth injury attorneys today for a free consultation
If your baby was injured at birth, you need to speak with an experienced birth injury attorney as soon as possible. At The Eisen Law Firm, our Cleveland birth injury attorneys are compassionate and work hard to ensure you obtain the maximum compensation available under the law. To schedule your free consultation, call 216-687-0900 or contact us online.