Birth Injuries in Newborns: What You Need To Know

Welcoming a newborn into the world is a moment filled with joy and anticipation for the expectant families. The nursery room is ready, the parents have spent months nesting, and family members have arrived to be part of the celebration.

As birth injury lawyers, we see parents robbed of these happy moments all too often by unexpected complications during labor and delivery. Birth injuries, a general term to describe the harm that occurs to the infant during this critical stage, affects some seven in 1,000 deliveries, according to the latest birth injury statistics. In many cases, these life-altering birth injuries were entirely preventable.

Birth injuries in newborns can occur in a number of ways, many of them are preventable. In this blog, we will explore the most common types of birth injuries, some preventative measures, and what to do if you suspect your baby has suffered a birth injury.

Talk To A Florida Birth Injury Lawyer Now: 813-222-2222

What is a birth injury?

Birth injuries, also known as birth traumas, are generally defined as physical damage sustained by a baby during the birth process. These injuries can range from mild (light bruising) to severe (permanent brain injury and/or nerve damage).

The most common types of birth injury are mild or moderate in severity; the child suffers for a few days or weeks, but the child’s birth injury does not affect their quality of life. Some birth injuries have long-term effects on the child’s health and development and require medical intervention or ongoing care.

What causes birth injuries?

Birth injuries can result from various factors, including prolonged labor, large baby size, premature birth, the baby’s position in the birth canal, and the use of instruments during the birthing process. Maternal health issues must also be accounted for during labor and delivery, as diabetes, obesity, or preeclampsia in the mother can complicate delivery and increase injury risk for both mother and child.

Responsible medical professionals will know how to handle all of these factors during delivery. They will take every precaution regarding the infant’s health by monitoring oxygen levels and heart rates through electronic fetal monitoring. Failing to note these metrics, and respond promptly to signs of danger, can constitute medical negligence and can lead to serious conditions including brain injury, cerebral palsy, and permanent nerve injuries.

In some tragic cases, birth injuries can lead to a decrease in the child’s quality of life that lasts a lifetime. This means permanent impairment, massive financial costs, and the emotional burden of always wondering how life would look had it not been for a negligent doctor or nurse.

Has your child suffered a birth injury as the result of negligent medical care? Mattlaw is here to help. Call us at 813-222-2222 to discuss your claim.

What do I do if my baby sustains a birth injury?

Seeking prompt medical attention is key to managing birth injuries effectively and ensuring your child’s health and well-being.

If your newborn sustains a birth injury, prompt medical attention is crucial. Your first and most time-sensitive step is to Seek immediate medical care. This will ensure that your baby receives the necessary medical care to address any injuries and prevent further complications. Know the signs to look for and be assertive to ensure that your baby receives the care it needs.

In most cases, you will need to follow up with specialists in the days and weeks after delivery to check on the progression of your child’s birth injury. Depending on the injury, your baby may need to see medical specialists, such as pediatric neurologists or physical therapists, for ongoing care. It is important that you document all medical treatments administered and follow all medical advice carefully.

Finally, In cases where medical negligence is suspected, you should always consult with a birth injury lawyer. An experienced birth injury attorney will be able to help you understand your rights and options, and determine if your medical malpractice case is meritorious. Talk to the birth injury lawyers at Mattlaw for a free consultation on your birth injury case: 813-222-2222.

Can a birth injury cause cerebral palsy?

Yes. Cerebral palsy is often the result of birth injury. This could result from complications during childbirth, including asphyxia (lack of oxygen) or physical trauma during delivery. It can also be caused by brain injuries (TBIs) or infections that occur after delivery, including meningitis.

If you believe your child developed cerebral palsy as the result of a birth injury, talk to a birth injury lawyer immediately. Because of the difficulty in diagnosing cerebral palsy, Florida law permits medical malpractice cases up to the child’s eighth (8th) birthday. Call us today to learn how Mattlaw can help: 813-222-2222.

Read more: Common Questions for a Florida Cerebral Palsy Lawyer

What is shoulder dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia is a birth complication that occurs during delivery when one or both of a baby’s shoulders become stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone, preventing the baby from being delivered easily. This can lead to a difficult and potentially dangerous situation for both the mother and the baby.

Risk factors include large baby size (macrosomia), maternal diabetes, obesity, a history of shoulder dystocia in previous deliveries, and prolonged labor. Shoulder dystocia can lead to injuries such as brachial plexus injury (nerve damage), fractures (especially of the clavicle or humerus), and even oxygen deprivation and brain injury. Your delivery doctor should be aware of these risk factors and take every precaution to avoid shoulder dystocia.

Did your baby suffer shoulder dystocia during birth? Speak to a birth injury attorney immediately to discuss your legal options: 813-222-2222.

Common Types of Birth Injuries

Several types of birth injuries can occur, each with varying degrees of severity. Birth injury cases can often present in several ways. Here are some of the most common:

1. Bruising

During vaginal birth, medical professionals may use a forceps tool to grab the child’s head and negotiate it through the birth canal. While generally considered safe, forceps are known to leave bruising and indentations on the baby’s skin; most bruising and forceps marks will heal on their own within a few days without any lasting effects.

2. Fractures

It is not uncommon for fractures to occur during labor and delivery, particularly during a difficult delivery.

According to Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, “Fracture of the clavicle or collarbone is the most common fracture during labor and delivery. The clavicle may break when there is trouble delivering the baby’s shoulder or during a breech delivery. A baby with a fractured clavicle rarely moves the arm on the side of the break. However, healing occurs quickly.”

3. Brachial Plexus Injuries

Brachial plexus injuries occur when the nerve bundle attached to the arms and hands, also known as the brachial plexus, is injured during labor. This occurs most commonly during the delivery of the baby’s shoulder (a condition called shoulder dystocia). Movement sometimes returns within a few months of delivery, but in some cases can cause permanent damage. In severe cases, brachial plexus injuries can lead to a condition called Erb’s palsy, where the baby has weakness or difficulty moving the affected arm.

4. Cephalohematoma

Cephalohematoma (cephalo– meaning “head,” hema meaning blood, –toma referring to a physical condition) is a condition resulting from the collection of blood between the baby’s scalp and the skull, often appearing as a lump on the head. Within a few weeks, the baby’s body will generally reabsorb the blood, and the condition will resolve without issue within a few weeks. Some babies may develop jaundice at the site of the bump as the blood cells start to break down and disburse.

5. Caput Succedaneum

Caput Succedaneum or simply “caput,” is a condition that involves the swelling of the scalp caused by pressure during delivery. It is more common in infants delivered by vacuum extraction, and it usually subsides within a few days without treatment.

6. Perinatal Asphyxia

Perinatal asphyxia, or birth asphyxia, is “a lack of blood flow or gas exchange to or from the fetus in the period immediately before, during, or after the birth process.” Oxygen deprivation during birth can lead to brain injury or other severe complications. Immediate medical attention is crucial to minimize long-term effects. 

Medical malpractice lawsuits can arise from instances of perinatal asphyxia when it is clear that the child’s injuries resulted from a medical professional failing to meet the standard of care.

7. Intracranial Hemorrhage

Intracranial hemorrhage is bleeding in the brain. It can result from physical trauma during delivery, potentially leading to serious neurological issues. Birth injury lawsuits may result from intracranial hemorrhage if the evidence shows that the attending medical staff was not using force judiciously during the labor and delivery process. If your baby suffered an intracranial hemorrhage, speak to a personal injury lawyer about taking legal action; these are among the most common types of birth injury claims.

Read more on Birth Injuries:

Neonatal Sepsis: Know The Signs

Birth Injury Lawsuit? File Your Case As Soon As Possible

In most cases, you only have two (2) years to file your birth injury case. 

In most cases, Florida’s statute of limitations only allows you to bring suit within the first two years of the child’s life (with limited exceptions up to the child’s 8th birthday). If your child or loved one has experienced a birth injury, don’t delay: talk to a birth injury attorney today for a free consultation. Call us at 813-222-2222.

Matt Powell

About Matt

Matt Powell is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer by the Florida Bar who represents injured victims and their families. He is an experienced personal injury trial attorney who has been practicing since 1989 in Tampa, Florida. If you have any questions, feel free to call him at 813-222-2222 today.

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