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How Do Babies Get Injured During Labor?

By Burg Simpson
January 22, 2018
4 min read

Roughly 4 million women give birth every year in the United States. And while the vast majority of those deliveries go off without a hitch, more than 50,000 of these women suffer complications during labor annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The United States stands out as the country with the industrialized world’s worst maternal mortality rate. But the mothers are not the only ones who suffer: Nearly 30 out of every 1,000 infants suffer some type of injury during labor.

If you or your child has been hurt during childbirth because of a medical professional’s negligence, get help from a medical injury lawyer quickly.

How Do These Injuries Happen?

Research points to a number of different circumstances that can lead to infant brain injuries, the most common of which include:

  • Cephalopelvic disproportion – This is when the infant’s head or body is simply too large to navigate the mother’s pelvis. This is normally the result of an overdue baby, abnormal positioning, or a smaller than normal, or oddly shaped pelvis.
  • Rapid labor – This is typically classified as labor that lasts anywhere from three to five hours, much less than the average labor time of six to 18 hours.
  • Prolonged labor – Also frequently referred to as failure to progress, this describes labor that lasts longer than 20 hours for first-time mothers. A larger than average fetus or a smaller than normal cervix can contribute to prolonged labor.
  • Abnormal birth position – This can take a number of forms, such a baby facing toward the mother’s back or lying face up.
  • Asynclitic birth – This is a birth position where the baby’s head is presented properly – presenting first – but is tilted at the shoulder.
  • External cephalic version – This is a procedure where the medical professional attempts to manually turn a breeched fetus into the proper birth position and presentation.
  • Acceleration and stimulation of the birth – This is what happens when the doctor attempts to speed along the birthing process.
  • Breech presentation – This is when the fetus is positioned feet first. According to the American Pregnancy Association, this happens in about one out of every 25 full-term births.
  • Forceps and vacuum extraction – Forceps are typically used to aid the delivery process by pushing either side of the baby’s head to turn and/or to extract it. Alternatively, doctors can use a vacuum extractor to help hold the infant’s head still during delivery.

Other Injuries Infants May Suffer During Labor

According to research from Stanford Children’s Health, the most common injuries babies suffer include:

  • Caput succedaneum. This is a swelling and/or bruising on the infant’s scalp that develops as the baby travels through the birth canal. Vacuum extraction contributes to this type of injury.
  • Cephalohematoma. This is an area of bleeding beneath one of the child’s cranial bones. This can take anywhere from two weeks to three months to vanish. This can also lead to jaundice.
  • Bruising or forceps marks. Some babies can suffer bruising on the face or head either as a result of passing through the birth canal and/or contact with the pelvis. Forceps and vacuum extraction can also lead to bruising or lacerations.
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage. This is the rupturing of small blood vessels in the baby’s eyes. In most cases, it resolves itself in a week or so.
  • Facial paralysis. This can be caused by pressure on a baby’s face and injures the facial nerves. A forceps delivery can cause this type of injury.
  • Brachial palsy. This injury occurs when the brachial plexus – the network of nerves in the arms and hands – is injured. It’s common when there is difficulty delivering the baby’s shoulder.
  • Fractures. Clavicle or collarbone fractures are among the most common breaks that occur during labor and delivery.

Childbirth is supposed to be a joyous time. But it can quickly turn tragic when an overworked nurse or a distracted doctor makes a mistake during delivery. If your newborn baby has been seriously injured during delivery, contact the experienced Denver medical malpractice attorneys at Burg Simpson Colorado as soon as possible by calling 303-792-5595 or complete our Free Case Evaluation Form now so we can assess your case.

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