Of the astronomically high number of births each year, the clear majority occur without incident. Although that can be comforting to hear, it’s important to know the risks. Birth injuries occur in 6-8 of every 1,000 babies born in the U.S. each year. Although trained to identify risk, the repetition of so many routine deliveries can lead to a physician’s negligence. Some common causes of birth injuries include improper use of delivery instrumentation, misidentification of obstetrical risk factors or negligence.
We often place physicians on a pedestal for the work that they do, but it’s important to be realistic: they make mistakes, just like everyone else. Unlike most professions, their mistakes can cost livelihoods or even lives, and those affected by a physician’s negligence have the right to seek compensation.
Here are the 10 most common birth injuries:
- Brachial Plexus Palsy (Erb’s Palsy)
- Nerve damage to the baby’s upper arm affecting movement
- Bone fractures
- Most typically the clavicle
- Blood vessels between the skull and the skin can be damaged. Typically occurring with birth-assisting tools.
- Caput succedaneum
- Fluid collection from pressure, leading to scalp swelling.
- Perinatal asphyxia
- Lack of oxygen to the infant
- Intracranial hemorrhage
- Bleeding in the brain.
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage
- During a stressful delivery, the small blood vessels under the eye can rupture, discoloring the white of the eye.
- Facial paralysis
- Pressure on facial nerves during birth can lead to nerve damage.
- Spinal cord injuries
- Some deliveries result in excessive stress to the baby’s trunk.
- Cerebral palsy
- Brain damage caused by infection, loss of oxygen, placental abnormalities or improper care from a variety of other risk factors.
Unfortunately, you cannot prevent a birth injury from occurring, but you can prepare yourself for the birth experience by knowing your unique risk factors, researching best practices in delivery and advocating for yourself every step of the way.