During the birthing process, in very unfortunate circumstances, a newborn baby may be physically injured. Some injuries are simply the result of the traumatic event of being born. However, it’s important to understand that some birth injuries are caused by medical negligence and certain cases may need to be evaluated by a Los Angeles birth injury attorney.
Knowing the most common types of birth injuries and what you should do after a difficult childbirth can help many families recover from the physical and financial hardship of a birth injury.
What Causes a Difficult Birth
For many women, the baby’s size or the baby’s positioning during the labor and delivery process can result in a difficult birth.
Here are a few of the conditions that can be associated with a difficult birth process:
• Larger babies with a birth weight of more than eight pounds, 13 ounces
• Difficult labor or childbirth, known as dystocia
• Premature birth, meaning the baby is born before 37 weeks gestation
• Prolonged labor
• Cephalopelvic disproportion, or CPD, which means the mother’s pelvis size and shape aren’t adequate for a vaginal birth
• Abnormal birthing presentation, such as a breech presentation
Some injuries are more common than others, but often birth injuries can be prevented if a physician or other healthcare provider act proactively to make the proper adjustments and preparations when they know a potential problem exists. A Los Angeles birth injury attorney can review the facts surrounding your child’s birth and determine if you have a claim.
The Most Common Birth Injuries
While there are countless types of birth injuries that might result to a newborn baby, some of the more common injuries that are suffered by babies are as follows:
• Forceps marks or bruising:
Babies might show signs of bruising on the forehead or face from the trauma of passing through the birth canal. When forceps are used during the delivery process, they can cause bruising or leave temporary marks on the face and head of the infant. When a baby is born by vacuum extraction, there could be cuts on the scalp or bruising of the scalp.
Bleeding between the fibrous covering on the skull and the bone can appear as a raised lump on the infant’s head hours after birth. The body will reabsorb the blood over time. Usually, cephalohematomas disappear anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months after childbirth. If it is a larger bleeding area, the baby might develop jaundice as a result of red blood cell breakdown.
• Caput succedaneum:
This is significant swelling of the soft tissues in the infant’s scalp and develops when the baby is traveling through the birth canal. Bruising and swelling often results but usually only lasts a few days. Vacuum extraction during childbirth is likely to cause this condition.
• Subconjunctival hemorrhage:
When the small vessels in the baby’s eyes break, this can cause either one or both eyes to have a bright red band in the white part of the eyeball. This is common and doesn’t cause lasting eye damage. Usually, the redness is absorbed in a few days.
• Facial paralysis:
Pressure on the infant’s face could cause injury to the facial nerve. This could be caused by forceps during delivery. When the baby cries, the injury becomes noticeable. There is no movement on the baby’s side of the face where the injury was suffered and the eye on that side cannot close. If only bruising occurred, the paralysis will improve within a few weeks, but if the nerve was torn, surgical intervention may be necessary.
During a breech delivery, or if there is difficulty delivering the baby’s shoulder, the clavicle or collarbone could be broken. If a clavicle is fractured, the baby will rarely move the arm on that side. A firm lump on the clavicle should develop within the first 10 days. The fracture is very painful to the baby, limiting movement of the shoulder and arm.
• Cerebral Palsy or Anoxic Brain Injury:
When a newborn baby is denied oxygen for any given amount of time during the birth process, that baby can suffer from long term brain injuries, which can manifest in various ways, including cognitive delays, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, or in the worst case scenario, cerebral palsy.
Contact a Los Angeles Birth Injury Lawyer
If your baby has suffered any kind of birth injury, you should consult with a Los Angeles birth injury attorney. Call the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq. for a free initial consultation at (310) 289-2600.