What Causes a Serious Birth Injury?

By Osborne & Francis
October 25, 2023

When a doctor or other medical professional acts with negligence, they can cause serious birth injuries to both mothers and newborns. Negligence refers to an act committed without intention. These doctors don’t mean to cause harm. However, they still must be held accountable for their mistakes. Even the smallest mistake can cause a lifetime of pain and suffering for a mother or child. 

Studies show that 1 in 3 women (or as many as 45%) experience birth trauma. If medical malpractice resulted in the injury of you or your child, you may be entitled to compensation. To learn more, contact us online or at (561) 293-2600

Oxygen Deprivation 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3 out of every 10,000 live births in the United States result in newborn fatality because of birth trauma. Oxygen deprivation (asphyxia) is the leading cause of both newborn fatality and injury. 

Oxygen deprivation can occur when the baby’s brain and other organs don’t get enough oxygen during or after the birthing process. This lack of oxygen can cause permanent brain damage. The severity of the resulting injury depends on how long the baby lacks oxygen for. Babies who lack oxygen for a short period of time may be able to recover fully. 

Oxygen deprivation can occur because of long or difficult delivery, umbilical cord problems, infections, high or low blood pressure (mother), or a blocked airway. 

Improper Use of Equipment

Sometimes, forceps or other extraction tools are used to aid in the delivery of a child. Unfortunately, these devices can be risky to use. If the doctor doesn’t warn the mother of the potential risks, or they opt for a forceps delivery when another option would have been safer, they could be liable for your child’s injuries. 

Forceps and extraction vacuums can cause the following complications:

  • Bone and skull fractures
  • Brain damage
  • Intracranial hematoma
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Seizures
  • Facial palsy (temporary or permanent) 
  • Bruises or cuts to the head and face

Not Performing C-Section 

Doctors perform emergency cesareans (c-sections) when there are concerns for the health and safety of the mother or child. If an emergency c-section isn’t performed in a timely manner (or at all), the mother and baby could suffer. 

Reasons doctors perform c-sections include:

  • Fetal or maternal distress
  • Prolapsed umbilical cord 
  • Maternal hemorrhage 
  • Placenta abruption 
  • Uterine rupture 

Missing Signs of Infection

Infection can cause serious issues during birth. If a doctor misses these signs when they first start to appear, they can become serious and severe. Infections can include sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis. 

If the mother hasn’t been treated with antibiotics, they can easily pass the infection to the newborn. Infections may also occur because of unsterilized equipment and dressings. 

Failing to Monitor Vitals 

When a mother is admitted to the hospital for delivery, they should be monitored as they progress through labor. If their vitals aren’t properly monitored, the care team could miss something critical. 

Damage can also occur after the baby is born. If the medical staff doesn’t pay attention to the new baby’s vitals, they might miss something of importance—leading to an injury in the future. 

Failing to Spot Potential Issues Before Delivery 

Unfortunately, for some, pregnancy can be risky. For those with diabetes, high blood pressure, or obesity, the risks are even higher. If a doctor doesn’t educate a mother about any of these conditions, they may be held liable for an injury that occurs as a result. 

Other issues that should be spotted before birth include:

  • Maternal infections
  • Medical history risks 
  • Fetal distress
  • Breech birth 

Failing to diagnose these issues before delivery can result in deprived oxygen, cognitive disabilities, or even the death of the newborn. 

Failing to Care for Newborns After Delivery 

Newborns require immediate care after delivery. Not only do their vitals need to be monitored, but they also may require other care as well. For example, if a doctor fails to check the newborn for jaundice, they could develop kernicterus. Kernicterus is a potentially fatal neurological condition that only occurs because of untreated jaundice. 

After birth, doctors should also evaluate newborns for any injuries caused as a result of birth. If they made any mistakes that caused damage, they should start course correction at this time, if possible. If they fail to treat any issues they cause, it will only lead to further damage. 

Contact Osborne & Francis if You or Your Child was Injured During Birth 

Unfortunately, medical malpractice can happen to anyone. If you or your child was injured due to birth malpractice, it’s time to seek the compensation you deserve for your damages. To learn more or to schedule a free case evaluation, contact Osborne & Francis online or at (561) 293-2600

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