Dealing with birth injuries
Birth injury is defined as physical trauma that is a direct result of childbirth, rather than improper gestational development. While birth injuries are relatively rare, occurring in approximately 1 percent of live births in developed countries, they can be very serious and adversely affect the quality of the baby's life. In extreme cases, a birth injury can actually cause the death of the infant.
To ensure normal child development, you should regularly have an ultrasound examination during pregnancy. This will help your doctor identify any possible developmental abnormalities, some of which may be reversible or preventable.
Common Types of Birth Trauma
Some of the better-known types of birth injury include:
- Fractures. If the baby exits the birth canal suddenly or is mishandled during delivery, fractures can result. Injuries to the collar bone are the most common type of birth fracture.
- Head trauma. Because most babies are born head first, head trauma is a very real possibility. Hematomas, hemorrhaging and fluid buildups are the most common results of head trauma during childbirth, and these conditions need to be closely monitored by doctors to prevent the possibility of brain damage or permanent physical disability.
- Cerebral palsy. While the cause of cerebral palsy can be genetic or unidentifiable, it can also be caused by asphyxiation during birth, a lack of oxygen during birth, or head trauma. Children with cerebral palsy suffer from a range of perception, sensory, behavioral and cognitive disabilities as well as difficulties with motor skills.
- Brachial plexus palsy. Birth injuries can cause brachial plexus palsy, which is a defect in the body's ability to conduct nerve signals to the upper limbs and shoulders. Restricted movement is the most common result.
- Erb's palsy. Erb's palsy is related to brachial plexus palsy, in that it affects nerve groups that make up part of the brachial plexus. Arm paralysis is the most common result, and Erb's palsy is almost always caused by a difficult child delivery.
What to Do if Your Baby Is Born with a Birth Injury
If the birth injury was the result of negligence, your first move should be to contact an attorney. There are lawyers who specialize in representing people with children injured during childbirth, such as cerebral palsy attorneys and medical malpractice attorneys.
If you opted for natural childbirth or a water birth and your baby was injured, you should seek immediate medical attention for the baby. Early intervention can significantly reduce the adverse effects of certain birth injuries.