Birth Injuries


Birth injuries account for approximately 7.5 deaths per 100,000 births and many more injuries.  While this rate has declined significantly in the last few decades, there are still many newborns with permanent and serious birth-related injuries.  Birth injuries are often the result of medical negligence or error. A baby with a birth injury may recover fully and quickly, or may suffer lifelong physical and mental limitations.

Causes.  The birth process involves many intense forces.  When the baby’s size, presentation or immaturity complicates this event, these forces can lead to bleeding, fractures, and nerve injuries such as brachial plexus injuries (shoulder dystocia), and Erb’s palsy.  A cesarean delivery can be an acceptable alternative.  Some common causes of birth injuries include:
  • Mechanical trauma when an unusual position is adopted by the baby at the time of delivery or when the baby is too large to readily pass through the birth canal.
  • Oxygen deprivation, which can occur when the umbilical cord is compressed or twisted in the birth process or when the unborn fetus chokes on it’s own meconium (fecal material comprising the first feces of the newborn, which can be released either just prior or just after birth).
  • Mistakes made by any of the numerous participants on the delivery team. These mistakes can occur prior to delivery, at the time of delivery or immediately after delivery. They include events such as the use of excessive force or improper rotational force in the delivery process, delaying a cesarean section (C-section) delivery during fetal distress, failure of a midwife to seek the assistance of an obstetrician, and improper intubation (insertion of a tube) of a newborn requiring oxygen which results in hypoxia (insufficient amounts of oxygen reaching body tissue).
  • Improper or incomplete pre-natal testing/monitoring that can result in a medical team unprepared for a difficult delivery. These include conditions such as a high birth weight baby (over 9 pounds), peculiarities relating to the size and shape of the mother’s pelvis, and an improperly positioned fetus, all of which can be detected through the use of a sonogram.
There are many predisposing factors to birth injuries, many of which the physician should be aware of and take into account. These predisposing factors include:
  • Prima gravida (first delivery)
  • Small maternal size or pelvic abnormalities
  • Prolonged labor
  • Abnormal presentation (breech)
  • Fetal macrosomia (large baby, generally 9 pounds or more)
  • Large fetal head
  • Very low birth weight or prematurity
  • Use of midcavity forceps or vacuum extraction
Thankfully, none of these factors necessarily means that there will be a birth injury, but they do complicate the labor and delivery process, providing a statistically greater probability of an injury. In many cases a baby with a birth injury will make a full recovery. When circumstance are such that a full recovery does not occur however, birth injuries can be devastating, frequently causing debilitating injuries for the newborn which can last a lifetime.

If you suspect your child has been injured through medical negligence, contact a Salt Lake City medical malpractice attorney at The Faerber Law Firm today at (801) 943-1005.  We would be happy to discuss your situation with you for free. 

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