Labor & Delivery Trauma: What Is A Birth Injury + When to Take Legal Action

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You have carried the baby, picked out a name, and decorated the nursery in anticipation of your new little family member. When you're expecting a new baby, nothing is more terrifying than harm befalling your highly anticipated newborn during the labor and delivery process. 

While it is rare, infant death and injury happen every year, and American families are not immune to these statistics. In fact, every year nearly 600 out of 100,000 babies do not live past delivery, and thousands more experience birth trauma or injury in the process. In the US, these babies are not injured due to a need for developed technology and education; they are often injured by negligence or a lack of attention to detail on the part of the medical professional. 

Let's discuss what constitutes a birth injury, common examples of fetal complications in labor and delivery, and how to take action if your newborn was harmed due to medical negligence. 

What Constitutes A Birth Injury?

The labor and delivery process can be traumatic for both baby and mother. A birth injury refers to any harm or illness that befalls a newborn baby before, immediately after, or during the labor and delivery process. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 7 in 1,000 babies will sustain a birth injury. Many times this is a minor injury, and most of these small complications heal on their own without intervention. 

Some moderate birth injuries such as bruising or nerve damage in the delivery process can be treated if they are noticed and given immediate attention. Always consult a doctor if you suspect an injury in your newborn, as most moderate birth injuries can be healed with prompt attention and care.

Severe birth traumas are the most frightening, as some serious injuries have no cure and can lead to brain damage or disability in a newborn baby. While all of the above examples constitute a birth injury, it's the serious birth injuries that lead to lifelong complications. Let's explore examples of serious injuries that can occur in labor and delivery and their possible complications.

What Are Examples Of Serious Injury In Labor And Delivery?

Serious birth injuries can be traumatic for you, your family, and the newborn. Trauma during the labor and delivery process can lead to permanent health complications or disability in the newborn, potentially altering your baby's quality of life. Let's discuss a few examples of severe birth injuries and how they can affect your newborn.

Deprivation of Oxygen

If your newborn's oxygen supply is cut off in the delivery process, it could lead to brain damage. Lack of oxygen to the brain during delivery can also lead to cerebral palsy, which has treatment options but no cure. 

Unnoticed Fetal Distress

If your medical professional has not properly monitored the baby before delivery, they could miss signs of fetal distress. Failure to notice fetal distress can lead to umbilical cord strangulation, stillbirth, and other health complications in the newborn.

Skull + Bone Fractures

This is most common when there is a difficult vaginal birth and the doctor failed to order a c-section soon enough. When tools are used to pull the baby from the birth canal, this can result in bone fractures and damage to the baby's skull, or even permanent nerve damage.

A Newborn Has Suffered An Injury. What Are The Next Steps?

A birth injury can happen for a multitude of reasons, from premature birth to medical negligence. Nearly 10% of babies are born prematurely, which puts them at a higher risk due to low birth weight and an underdeveloped brain and nervous system. 

While there are potentially other factors at play such as the baby's birth weight, the mother's health, or preterm birth, if you suspect your baby has suffered a birth injury due to medical negligence during labor and delivery, you may want to contact a lawyer. 

If you suspect medical negligence before, during, or immediately after the labor and delivery process, a lawyer can help you win compensation for medical expenses, wrongful death, newborn pain and suffering, or the cost of future rehabilitation. 

Conclusion

Doctors in the US are required by law to inform parents about any complications before birth; if you were awaiting a healthy baby and your baby has an illness or a life-altering disability, the failure to detect this pre-birth could be considered medical negligence. 

Additionally, medical professionals are obligated to use the utmost care in the labor and delivery process to ensure your healthy baby is born without complications and is free to grow up with an excellent quality of life. Don't hesitate to reach out to a personal injury attorney if your newborn has suffered a birth injury.

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