Birth injuries occur to approximately 3 to 6 out of every 1,000 births in the United States. A birth injury is harm that happens to a child during the labor or delivery process. Birth injuries can range from mild to severe. Mild birth injuries are often treated and the infant makes a full recovery. More severe injuries may require ongoing treatment or surgery. Permanent or disabling injuries are the most severe types of birth injuries that usually occur due to lack of oxygen during birth. There are some important risk factors that make birth injuries more likely.
Babies who are born prematurely are at a higher risk for birth injuries than full-term babies. Premature babies are those born at less than 37 weeks gestational age. These infants are at a higher risk because their organs may not be fully formed or functional. Jaundice is one of the main concerns for premature infant injuries. When treated promptly, jaundice typically poses no long-term medical harm and infants recover fully. However, if jaundice goes undiagnosed or treated it can lead to serious medical problems or even death.
Large babies or those who weigh more than 9 pounds may be at a higher risk for possible birth injuries. Large babies can more easily become stuck during delivery. When this occurs, the doctor may need to assist in the delivery by pulling the baby or through the use of instruments. Large babies are often born to mothers with diabetes or hypertension. Prenatal care should be done to confirm the size of the infant prior to delivery. If the baby is large, a cesarean section may be required to avoid the potential for injury during birth.
Sometimes the birth is delayed, and assistance from the doctor is necessary to precipitate delivery. One cause of delayed birth is the use of an epidural, which can slow the birth process. Regardless of the reason, assisted births are more likely to culminate in a birth injury. Pulling the baby can crush the brachial plexus, the bundle of nerves located near the shoulder. If the damage is severe, the child could suffer permanent disabilities.
Difficult or Prolonged Labor
Delayed birth or other complications can cause problems for the baby. Proper monitoring is required during labor to ensure that the baby is receiving enough oxygen. Asphyxia, oxygen deprivation, is a major cause of serious birth injuries. Just a few minutes of reduced or lack of oxygen to the brain results in brain trauma. The result may be developmental delay, physical or mental disabilities, or cerebral palsy. Immediate response is necessary to reduce the amount of time the baby is in distress. Some recent studies show that neonatal cooling provided to oxygen deprived infants could improve their long-term outcomes.
Medical care and ongoing treatment is expensive. If your baby suffered a serious injury during labor or delivery, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the experienced lawyers at Levin & Perconti to discuss your case.
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