How do birth injuries happen?

Pregnancy is a time of joy and excitement, but it unfortunately also carries some risks. One of them is your child becoming permanently injured during birth due to negligence and mistakes on the part of your medical team. These injuries are completely preventable and should not even be a risk, yet they are due to the following causes. Being aware of them can help you avoid them, catch them if they are happening or recognize if you have a medical malpractice case.

Premature or delayed delivery

One of the most common reasons for birth injuries is partial (hypoxic) or complete (anoxic) lack of oxygen to the child’s brain, leading to permanent brain damage and medical conditions such as cerebral palsy. The lack of oxygen is often the result of delivering the baby at the wrong time. A delivery that is premature can bring a newborn with undeveloped lungs and a fragile body. A delivery that is overdue or prolonged can cause trauma to the baby when there is restricted blood flow through the umbilical cord.

Improper medical care of the mother

Certain pregnancy conditions require special prenatal care, such as gestational diabetes, placenta abnormalities and preeclampsia. If your provider fails to either diagnose a condition or give you the proper medical treatment for it, it can put both your and your baby’s life in danger.

Improper medical care of the baby

Your unborn child is delicate and requires gentle handling and diligent monitoring. Your provider must be aware of your baby’s health needs throughout your pregnancy and labor. Medical staff must notice and respond immediately when your baby lacks oxygen or another crucial need during delivery. A delayed response may result in brain damage and other injuries.

Other causes

The above are not the only ways in which medical errors and omissions can cause harm to your baby. Others include:

  • Errors in C-sections
  • Pitocin overuse
  • Infections
  • Hemorrhaging
  • Placenta rupture
  • Forceps or vacuum extraction

It is important to note the difference between natural birth injuries and those sustained from negligence. Natural ones can occur even with the best care and result from common labor conditions such as the size and shape of the mother’s pelvis or an abnormal birthing presentation (not head first). Damage is usually minor to moderate and temporary. For example, it is not uncommon for a newborn’s head to be swollen or bruised upon delivery. These types of birth injuries do not constitute medical malpractice. If you are unsure if your baby’s injury qualifies, speak to a medical malpractice attorney.