Of all medical malpractice cases, few are as tragic as those cases involving birth injuries or birth trauma. Some couples spend years planning for and anticipating becoming parents. When a health care provider’s negligence or recklessness causes a birth injury or birth trauma, parents are often faced with extreme grief at a time when they also have to deal with in the medical, financial, and legal consequences of the incident. Worse, birth injuries can lead to a lifetime of pain and difficulty. Some children who do not receive proper treatment at birth suffer lifelong disabilities or injuries. Some do not survive their first few weeks of life. In addition, some mothers experience severe complications when neonatal care is not adequate.
A birth injury or trauma is defined as an injury that occurs to an infant during birth. One of the most common birth injuries occurs when a delay in delivery deprives the unborn child of oxygen. When this occurs, a child may sustain brain injuries or may suffer from cerebral palsy, erbs palsy, or other injuries.
Besides delayed delivery, other common injuries at birth include:
1) Cephalohematoma. This occurs when the area between a bone and its covering starts to bleed. In most cases, a few hours after birth this is noticed as a lump on the infant’s head.
2) Caput Succedaneum. This injury occurs when the tissues of a baby’s scalp swell significantly. Usually, this injury occurs when babies are delivered by vacuum extraction. While in some cases, the swelling goes away and causes no further problems, some babies develop bruising in the area and may even suffer permanent injury.
3) Forceps marks. When forceps are used incorrectly, they can leave marks or bruises on a baby’s head and face. In some cases, they can cause birth trauma as well.
4) Facial Paralysis. In some cases, the facial nerve can be injured during delivery, especially in cases where forceps or vacuum extraction are used. Usually, this injury is evident at once because a crying baby with facial paralysis cannot close his or her eyes and cannot move one side of his or her face. Where a facial nerve has been torn, an infant may need surgery to correct the problem.
5) Brachial Palsy. The brachial plexus refers to the nerves which supply the arms and hands. When this group of nerves is injured, the result is brachial palsy. In most cases, this occurs when there is a problem delivering the baby’s shoulder. In some cases, babies recover in a day or in a few months. However, if any nerves are actually torn and not just injured a baby may suffer from permanent nerve damage.