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mother worried about birth injuries

15 Things Parents May Not Know About Their Baby’s Birth Injury

A birth injury is defined as the structural destruction or functional deterioration of an infant’s body due to a traumatic event at birth. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Some of these injuries are avoidable when appropriate care is available, and others are part of the delivery process that can occur even when clinicians practice extreme caution.”

This is a list of 15 things parents may not know about preventable birth injuries.

diabetes and preventable birth injuries
The routine induction of labor among women with preexisting type 1 and type 2 diabetes before pregnancy is a common practice and rightful under individual circumstances. But according to recent findings published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care, it is also associated with certain neonatal complications related to deliveries before 38 weeks.

“Based on this population-based, retrospective data, delivery of women with preexisting diabetes before 39 weeks’ gestation is associated with a higher rate of neonatal complications and does not reduce the cesarean section rate,” said lead researcher of the study, Howard Berger, MD, head of maternal fetal medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto. “Clinicians are often faced with the dilemma of when to deliver pregnant women with preexisting type 1 and type 2 diabetes. On one hand, it is known that pregnancies in women with preexisting diabetes are at increased risk for certain complications, including stillbirth and the development of preeclampsia. This has led to many clinicians electively choosing to deliver these women before 39 weeks’ gestation, but the price that is paid is an increase in early-term deliveries, which carry with them an increase in certain neonatal complications.”

According to Mayo Clinic, labor induction carries various risks, including:

birth defects
In the U.S., about 1 in 33 babies is born with a birth defect each year, according to the March of Dimes. This makes birth defects the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States, accounting for over 20% of all related deaths.  Several factors have an impact on how a child is born with a birth defect and whether that defect could have been prevented. Critical evaluations of the biological parents’ genetics, medications mom may have been prescribed, social and environmental factors, and prenatal care and physician choices all could play a role. Not to be confused with a birth injury, not all birth defects are preventable.

  • Birth Defects: A birth defect is a health condition that is present at birth. Defects can cause serious problems in a baby’s overall health, how his body develops, and how his/her body works, according to the March of Dimes.
  • Birth Injuries: A birth injury is defined as the structural destruction or functional deterioration of the neonate’s body due to a traumatic event at birth. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Some of these injuries are avoidable when appropriate care is available, and others are part of the delivery process that can occur even when clinicians practice extreme caution.”

Preventable Birth Injuries

How Long Do I Have to File a Birth Injury Lawsuit in Illinois?

Minor injuries to newborns may occur during the birthing process, which could be natural due to the force of labor. However, when nerves are damaged, bleeding occurs on the brain, bones are broken, or a baby’s oxygen is deprived causing irreversible injuries, further treatments and extended care will be required, leaving parents to reach a traumatic point of devastation and financial strain. Sadly, many times these injuries could have been prevented had the mother’s medical team including, doctors, nurses, and others, avoided negligent behaviors and faulted choices.

Examples of medical negligence during birth may include failure to:

Birth Asphyxia

3 Types of Asphyxia Related Childbirth Injuries

Some of the most traumatic injuries that arise during childbirth are those that affect the baby’s brain. Asphyxia is an irreversible event that occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen for an extended time prenatally, intrapartum, or postnatally and results in abnormal neurologic function in a newborn. The harm can be incredibly debilitating and impact the child’s suffering for the remainder of their life.

When medical provider negligence is involved in a childbirth-related injury, it is likely due to a failure to monitor the fetus and respond to distress or diagnose a potential delivery issue. Many birth injury lawsuits have been filed because of these unfortunate labor and delivery events.

Brain Injuries to Children

Record-Setting Verdict Against West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park for Failure to Order Emergency Cesarean

In November, an Illinois jury made up of six men and six women in Cook County decided that West Suburban was liable for medical malpractice. The award was a record-setting $100.6 million verdict for a lawsuit alleging a doctor and staff caused a newborn’s severe and permanent brain damage. The jury’s award is nearly double the previous Illinois record for an infant brain injury case.

Lawyers for the family and the boy, now a 5-year-old, alleged medical malpractice for West Suburban Medical Center and its health care providers due to their failure to recognize signs of fetal distress and order an emergency Cesarean section (C-section) in a timely manner.

Medical Negligence

As U.S. Maternal Mortality Rates Soar, Injuries to Baby May Follow

According to Harvard Medical School, expecting moms in the United States are now 50 percent more likely to die in childbirth than their mothers. The rate had alarmingly more than doubled from 10.3 per 100,000 live births in 1991 to 23.8 in 2014, and experts agree, the majority of these deaths could be avoided. These numbers rank the U.S. as the most dangerous place to give birth in the developed world, positioning health care providers to blame for their failures and carelessness in keeping mothers and babies safe during pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum stages.

Pregnancy-Related Deaths Are Mostly Preventable

Levin Perconti - Baby's Shoulder

4 Newborn Injury Complications Caused by Shoulder Dystocia

One of the most feared complications of a normal vaginal delivery, shoulder dystocia is a frightening reality that most U.S. labor and delivery teams are not nearly as prepared for as they should be. The American Family Physician defines shoulder dystocia as a difficulty during labor that occurs when the anterior shoulder of the baby gets stuck behind one of the mother’s pelvic bones during a vaginal delivery and ultimately delays birth.

Today, clinicians have many tools available to recognize the knowns risks of shoulder dystocia and should be trained to adhere to more conservative approaches and tactics to ensure a safe delivery with minimal harm of pressure put onto the baby or the umbilical cord. Although risk factors are identifiable during the course of prenatal care, doctors do continue to make delivery mistakes such as having a mom continue to push or fail to intervene soon enough. These medical errors can result in several significant birth injuries to the infant’s nerves and oxygen flow, and the mother.

In November, a Brooklyn, New York jury awarded 7 year old Aleigha Buck and her mother $26 million to compensate for a hospital’s failure to appropriately stall preterm labor that resulted in deafness and vocal chord paralysis for Aleigha and caused the death of her twin sister, who passed away 28 days after birth.

Medical Resident Failed to Treat Preterm Labor 

On February 9, 2010, Aleigha’s mother, Danielle Madden-Buck, was 21 weeks pregnant with twin girls when she visited labor & delivery triage at Brooklyn’s Maimonides Hospital twice on the same day. She was seen by a medical resident both times and discharged without medication or other doctor’s orders, despite bleeding that indicated she was experiencing preterm labor.

This past Tuesday night in Chicago, blogger and author Glennon Doyle (formerly Glennon Doyle Melton) joined forces with a panel of other equally insightful and inspiring women to talk about finding your own self worth and harnessing that power to live your best life. We were lucky enough to be in the audience and hear the many roles these women have taken on in their lives: daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, career women, and caregivers. In her New York Times bestselling book Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle wrote “My courage will come from knowing I can handle whatever I encounter there — because I was designed by my creator to not only survive pain and love but also to become whole inside it. I was born to do this. I am a Warrior.”

Women ARE warriors. For many women, our role as a nurturer and caregiver spans the full cycle of life, from the births of our children all the way to caring for our aging parents. Caring for another person is unlike any other job in the world. The weight of responsibility, the emotional highs and lows, the physical stress and exhaustion, and the strain on other relationships that being a caregiver imposes on a woman is demanding and isolating. Adding in maintaining a marriage or partnership, looking after our own health, and holding down a job while attempting to care for another human life, whether infant or elder, is more than just a feat. It’s superhuman.

Women as Caregivers for Aging Parents

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