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What Is a Birth Injury?

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The term, “birth injury,” refers to any injury the mother or baby experiences during childbirth. In legal terms, however, “birth injury” refers specifically to injuries caused by medical malpractice. When improper medical care harms you or your child, you may be entitled to compensation.

What Causes Birth Injuries?

Birth injuries can be a natural part of childbirth, and most heal quickly. They can also be caused by negligent prenatal care. The most common causes of birth injuries include:

  • Very large babies (weighing more than 10-11 pounds)
  • Overweight mothers
  • Mothers with birth canals and pelvises that make it difficult for a normal vaginal birth
  • Mothers with diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Babies who are not head-first in the birth canal
  • Premature babies
  • Long and difficult labors
  • Cesarean deliveries (C-sections)
  • Using forceps or vacuum during delivery

Doctors can prevent birth injuries by providing standard prenatal care. For example, if the mother is overweight or has health conditions, doctors can schedule a C-section instead of waiting for something to go wrong during delivery. Scheduled C-sections are less risky than emergency C-sections.

Medical providers have a responsibility to keep both mother and child safe before, during, and after delivery. Failure to prevent emergencies in the delivery room can cause serious injuries and lifelong problems.

What Are the Most Common Birth Injuries?

According to Merck Manuals, head injury is the most common birth injury for newborns.

Other common birth injuries include:

  • Nerve injuries, like brachial plexus injuries
  • Erb palsy
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Bone injuries (fractures)
  • Perinatal asphyxia (lack of oxygen before, during, or just after delivery)
  • Death

Mothers can suffer from birth injuries as well, including perineal tears, nerve damage, injuries to the pelvic floor, hemorrhaging (severe bleeding), and death. The United States has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world.

Although many of these birth injuries occur during emergency situations, they can be prevented or mitigated with the correct care. For example, doctors can treat infants who suffer perinatal asphyxia with therapeutic hyperthermia to reduce brain damage.

How Do I Know If My Provider is to Blame?

If you or your child suffered an injury during childbirth, or you lost your partner or child during labor or delivery, it can be difficult to know where to start. Sometimes, mistakes are obvious, and you will want to speak to an attorney right away.

Other times, you may need to investigate to find out what went wrong. When emergencies happen in the delivery room, providers do everything they can to avoid liability. To get to the bottom of what happened, you will need someone on your side, as well.

Our team at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. can take a look at your case and help you determine whether negligence was involved. If your provider made a mistake or failed to uphold the standard of care, we can help you recover compensation.

While no amount of money will change what happened, we can help you afford the extra care your child may need, account for the mother’s extended time off work, and even make funeral arrangements.

Bringing a baby into the world should be a time of joy, but if it wasn’t, you owe it to yourself and your family to find out what happened. With over 100 years of combined experience on our side, we can help.

Call us at (603) 288-1403 or contact us online to get started with a free consultation today.