Motherhood is a major milestone in a woman’s life. However, childbirth is one of the most potentially dangerous experiences most women will ever face – and expecting parents count on their doctors and care teams to minimize the risks to both mother and child. Unfortunately, every year thousands of infants are injured, sometimes permanently, by the very physicians charged with delivering them safely. And unfortunately, birth injury statistics paint a picture that may lead some mothers to become overly cautious.
That is not our intent, so we hope you read on with that in mind. Speak with your doctors and discuss these birth injury statistics. Find the right doctor to help you make sense of your procedure, and if god-forbid, anything goes wrong, be sure to contact a birth injury lawyer as soon as possible.
The Most Common Types of Mistakes That Lead to Birth Injuries
Every year in the United States, 6 of every 1,000 newborn babies will be injured in some way during the delivery process. This statistic reflects otherwise healthy babies who were directly harmed by a mistake by doctors and nurses in the delivery room.
These injuries can be caused by many different kinds of mistakes, but the most common break down into three different categories:
- C-section errors: Many mothers are rightly wary of opting for a C-section if it’s not absolutely necessary. But when it is absolutely necessary, doctors have a responsibility to recommend it and act immediately. Delayed C-sections can lead to serious birth injuries.
- Direct injury: Doctors attending a delivery use a variety of specialized tools, from forceps to vacuums to surgical instruments. Misusing any of these, or making a mistake with them, can cause mild to severe injury to the baby. In other cases, simply pushing or pulling too hard can seriously injure a child.
- Medication errors: Delivery room teams need to pay close attention to heart rate, oxygen flow, and other factors and administer the right medications in the right doses if necessary. When the wrong medication is administered, the mother and child can both be put at risk.
These errors are caused by doctors who have delivered healthy babies but made a mistake during the delivery process. the injuries themselves can and do vary.
Statistically Most Common Birth Injuries
Cerebral palsy: when the baby’s brain is deprived of oxygen before, during, or after birth, there is a 1 in 5 chance that the baby may develop cerebral palsy. Around 10,000 babies born will develop cerebral palsy each year in the U.S. (Cerebral Palsy Guidance)
Brain damage: similar to cerebral palsy, brain damage is caused when the baby’s brain is deprived of oxygen for a period of time causing mental delays. Almost 33% of babies in the U.S. are born with a birth defect and the specific numbers range depending on the defect. (CDC)
Facial paralysis: doctors who use forceps during delivery can cause irreversible damage to the baby’s head during the delivery process.
Skull fracture: also known as a cephalohematoma is caused when too much pressure is placed on the baby’s head during delivery causing blood to pool in the scalp. (BHC)
Shoulder dystocia: also known as brachial plexus is caused when a baby is delivered too forcefully and their shoulder becomes trapped in the birth canal. (NCH)
Neonatal injuries: babies born premature, or with existing conditions require special care and there are times when medical staff may not do what’s in the baby’s best interests.
What Causes Birth Injuries?
There are many other factors that can contribute to birth injuries, and mothers can also be at risk. The Centers for Disease Control reports that the number of mothers harmed by birth complications is on the rise, with 52,000 mothers a year facing serious complications.
Sometimes, the child’s parents may not even know that there has been an accident or that their baby is injured. Doctors and medical staff will do their best to ensure that the baby is taken care of but easily avoidable accidents can happen.
Premature Birth Injuries
Babies born before the 37 week gestation period is over are considered premature. Most babies born too early naturally have complications with their brains and lungs. (Medicine) The health and happiness of the baby will depend on a knowledgeable and careful medical staff that knows how to ensure the baby does not suffer any birth injuries.
The causes of premature birth are still unknown but there are risk factors that could induce early labor. Prenatal care can often aid in the prevention of premature birth as well as a healthy lifestyle, a healthy diet, and a low level of stress. Premature delivery can greatly increase the risk of birth injury to the baby. Physicians are required to recognize risk factors for premature birth, diagnose preterm labor, and follow standards of care to prevent premature birth.
Birth Injuries & Medical Malpractice
Of course, birth is an inherently risky process and even the best medical team can’t prevent complications arising from natural causes. But when doctors don’t catch these complications, or respond the wrong way, it can spell disaster.
Having your child injured during birth is a traumatic event that may leave parents feeling guilty, outraged, or hopeless. At Steinger, Greene & Feiner our Florida birth injury lawyers have years of experience walking parents through their legal options.
If your family has been affected by a birth injury, please call us and see how we can help: 800 560-5059.