Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash
No happily expecting mother wants her pregnancy to result in trauma, but childbirth complications are far too common on a global scale. But while many people confuse or combine birth injuries with birth defects, they differ on one major point: birth defects usually occur during gestation while birth injuries are just that… injuries or accidents that occur during or right after delivery. Almost 4 million babies are born in the U.S. every year, and approximately 7 out of 1000 are born with birth injuries. Most of those are completely avoidable with a little extra forethought and planning. But you first need to know the specific factors and causes that lead to these issues.
Infant and Mother Sizes Matter
A mother’s size goes a long way to determining the health and size of her fetus. Premature deliveries can lead to potentially serious injuries such as caput succedaneum where there’s swelling of the head, cuts and fractures on or of the limbs, and oxygen deprivation. However, post-term deliveries can also be high at risk for injuries. Fetal macrosomia is a term used to describe infants weighing over 8 lbs, 13 oz. Complications intensify when the fetus is closer to 10 lbs at birth. A baby of this large size can seriously complicate vaginal birth and lead to birth injuries, require a Caesarean section, or even lead to potentially serious health issues after birth.
Low Oxygen or Oxygen Deprivation
The mother and fetus require proper and continued amounts of oxygen to ensure a safe and successful delivery. Unfortunately, oxygen deprivation is far too common. This can occur for a number of reasons, including trauma in the womb, placenta issues, a prolapsed umbilical cord, preeclampsia, and excessive medication given to the mother. However, Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) is one of the most common types of brain damage that occurs during birth when oxygen deprivation is an issue. Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy occurs in approximately 20 of every 1000 full-term live births and in 60% of premature babies. HIE is also a major cause of cerebral palsy and other irreversible life disabilities.
Delayed or Extended Birth Complications
Labors lasting over 18 hours can be incredibly risky for the infant. The human brain is able to withstand a certain amount of pressure, but 18-hour deliveries are classified as traumatic even if no other issues have arisen. At this point, the infant’s brain can compress making delivery especially difficult. Fetal distress often occurs and the baby’s blood pressure elevates in response. Any number of neurological conditions may result from the trauma, including ADHD, Autism, brain injury, hematoma, or even spina bifida if the baby’s spinal cord is blocked or pinched during delivery. A competent birth injury may need to be contacted at this point.
Not all birth injuries are caused by a traumatic delivery or medical malpractice, but the majority of the obvious ones are. Lacerations, broken bones, bruises, and other actual injuries are quickly noticed and discovered by parents and doctors alike. They also tend to heal quickly. However, some issues may require extended or ongoing treatment while others may show up later and lead to lifelong challenges. Regardless, childbirth complications can extend treatment times and expenses for years to come. If you’re faced with those challenges, contact a birth injury attorney. We can help so you don’t have to face them alone.