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What is a birth injury?

Birth InjuryNews   November 27, 2015

A birth injury refers to injuries to the baby, not the mother. These injuries occur when something goes wrong during the birthing process. When that something that goes wrong causes serious harm and can be traced back to negligence on the part of the doctor or hospital, a medical malpractice lawsuit may be in order.

There are a number of situations that occur naturally that increase the risk of a birth injury, including:

  • The baby not being positioned headfirst in the birth canal
  • Having a large baby
  • Premature birth
  • Having long or difficult labor
  • The mother having a pelvis with a size or shape that won’t allow vaginal childbirth
  • The mother being very overweight

Medical practices used during the course of a difficult birth are often a cause of birth injuries, including:

  • Use of forceps
  • Cesarean section

Not every birth injury results in serious and permanent harm. But birth injuries can cause debilitating and lasting damage that may require expensive and long-term medical care. Some of these conditions include:

  • Perinatal asphyxia. This happens when a newborn doesn’t receive enough oxygen, and can result in neurological damage, including cerebral palsy, which causes difficulty with movement and posture.
  • Spinal cord injury. This can sometimes occur when forceps are used during delivery, and can cause paralysis or neurological problems.
  • Erb’s palsy. This happens when damage to the nerves serving the arm cause paralysis of the arm.
  • Meconium aspiration syndrome. This occurs when the newborn inhales fecal matter while in the womb, which can cause lung inflammation resulting in a lack of adequate oxygen flow.

Minor birth injuries can resolve on their own over time. But serious birth injuries can be permanent and require costly ongoing medical care. A knowledgeable birth injury lawyer can help families whose lives have been upended by medical negligence to access the resources needed to meet the financial obligations stemming from the injury.