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What causes birth injuries in babies?

Sometimes the birthing process can cause physical injuries to babies. Typically, this type of damage is due to the natural forces of delivery creating physical pressure on babies’ heads through the birth canal.

The National Healthcare Quality Report states that about 7 out of every 1,000 newborns sustain an injury during the birthing process.

What are some causes of injuries to babies during delivery?

A birth injury may occur when a baby’s weight is more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces or if the fetus has abnormal positioning within the uterus. The use of forceps can also contribute to possible harm. Some potential causes include:

  • Premature delivery
  • Prolonged labor
  • Considerable birth weight of the newborn
  • Abnormal birthing presentation of the baby
  • Disproportionate pelvis size of the mother
  • Complicated labor and childbirth
  • Use of vacuum pump extractors or obstetrical forceps

What are some types of birth injuries?

Various types of physical damage may occur during delivery, including:

  • Bruising on the head or face: Contact with the mother’s pelvic bones and trauma while in transit through the birth canal can result in bruises.
  • Brachial Plexus: This refers to damaged nerves from the upper spine to the baby’s shoulder, arm, hand and neck. Depending on the severity, injuries may be temporary or cause permanent disability or paralysis.
  • Oxygen deprivation: When babies do not receive sufficient oxygen during birth, it can result in brain injuries. The baby can consequently have chronic seizures, cerebral palsy, other physical issues or intellectual disabilities.
  • Facial paralysis: Pressure on a baby’s face during childbirth can injure the facial nerve, resulting in paralysis on the side of the face. The damaged nerve may heal in a few weeks or could require surgery.

When negligent medical care during labor and delivery causes birth injuries, parents have the legal right to compensation.