Common Birth Injuries and Their Causes
Some birth injuries are relatively minor health concerns that heal within a few days or weeks, while others are significant medical events that can carry life-long consequences for children and their parents. Sometimes no one is at fault for a birth injury that occurred during labor or delivery. However, other birth injuries result from the negligence of doctors, nurses or other medical-care providers.Reduced Oxygen
Reduced oxygen is one of the main causes of brain injuries during labor and delivery. When a baby’s oxygen supply is reduced or blocked, brain damage may occur. Insufficient oxygen can cause swelling in the brain that, in turn, may further obstruct or constrict the flow of oxygen to the baby’s brain and other vital organs. A lack of oxygen may result from damage to or poor functioning of the mother’s placenta, compression of the umbilical cord or too-low blood pressure in the mother from an epidural. In addition, when drugs are administered to strengthen and speed up contractions, the mother’s placenta may not have enough time between contractions to receive an adequate amount of oxygen.Birth Trauma
Trauma that occurs during labor and delivery is another main cause of birth injuries. Birth trauma caused by external forces can include:
- Facial paralysis: Pressure on a baby’s face from forceps use during delivery can damage facial nerves, preventing movement on the side of the face with the injured nerve. The paralysis may be temporary after a minor nerve injury, but surgery may be necessary if the nerve was severed.
- Erb’s palsy: Brachial or Erb’s palsy results from injury to the brachial plexus, which is a group of nerves that reach the arms and hands. Brachial plexus nerve damage commonly occurs when a baby’s shoulder is not delivered easily, and it may result in permanently-limited range of motion in the arms.
Every medical professional is required to conform to a uniform standard of care. When a doctor, nurse or other medical-care provider fails to meet that standard of care and a patient suffers harm a result, the medical-care provider may be found negligent and held liable for the harm in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Medical errors that may constitute negligence or medical malpractice during labor and delivery include:
- Failure to order or delay in ordering a medically-necessary cesarean section
- Failure to recognize umbilical cord compression or fetal distress
- Improper use of forceps or vacuum extractors
- Improper use of an epidural or medicine to increase contractions
If your child suffered harm during labor or delivery, or if you think your child sustained a birth injury because of a medical-care provider’s error, contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your legal options. Call Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. at (408) 289-1417 to schedule a free consultation.