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Birth Injury Causes FAQs

Q: What is a birth injury?
A: The term birth injury refers to damage or injury to the child before, during or just after the birthing process. Major birth defects are structural changes in one or more parts of the body that are present at birth and can have a serious, adverse effect on the health, development and functional ability of the newborn.

Some of the common types of birth injuries are swelling or bruising of the head; bleeding underneath one of the cranial bones; breakage of small blood vessels in the eyes of a baby; facial nerve injury caused by pressure on the baby’s face; Injury to the group of nerves that supplies the arms and hands; and fracture of the collarbone.

Q: What are the causes of a birth-related injury?
A: Among the causes of birth-related injuries are the following:

Medication-related birth injuries. Anti-seizure medicines, such as isotretinoin, have been linked to congenital heart disease. When doctors fail to stay on top of medications that pregnant mothers are taking, a reaction can occur that leads to a birth injury. Exposure to harmful toxins and poor maternal nutrition can also impact a newborn’s health and well-being.

Delayed Birth. This happens when certain circumstances delay a baby’s delivery. The failure of care providers to timely deliver. This includes the failure to act on signs and symptoms of hypoxia or oxygen deprivation leading up to birth. Also the failure to recognize the need to deliver by C-section. These can cause major medical issues, cognitive developmental disabilities and numerous permanent injuries or health problems.

Pre-term birth. An estimated 9.8% of all newborns are pre-term births. Children born before the 37th week of pregnancy have a higher risk of birth injury because their brain, muscles and nervous system have not yet fully developed. Pre-term births are associated with babies weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces, which puts them at greater risk of problems during delivery. Failure of care in addressing needs associated with such a birth can contribute significantly to permanent impairment.

Oxygen Deprivation. Healthcare providers are not always able to recognize and take immediate action when oxygen deprivation to the infant happens during delivery. Types of oxygen deprivation include: Preeclampsia Eclampsia; excessive medication to mother and child; shoulder misplacement trauma to infant; and umbilical cord prolapse. Oxygen deprivation can manifest itself as cerebral palsy, a condition which occurs in 1.5 to 4 children for every 1,000 births.

Use of forceps. Forceps or vacuum extraction during delivery can cause significant damage to the infant’s head, neck and shoulders of infants. Physical trauma, such as excessive force from a doctor during delivery, can cause severe damage to a newborn’s head, neck and shoulders and lead to brain damage or nerve injuries such as Erb’s palsy.

Attorneys at Smith LaCien LLP have extensive experience in representing victims of a birth injury and can help you determine whether your injury was caused by medical mismanagement or negligence. There is absolutely no charge for the initial consultation.