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What should I know about birth trauma?

Birth trauma relates to injuries suffered by an infant during birth, usually caused by mechanical forces like traction and compression. Birth trauma may cause hypoxic-ischemic insult, permanent injuries and lifelong developmental challenges for affected infants.

In extreme cases, birth trauma causes stillbirths and deaths. Two percent of neonatal stillbirths and deaths are attributed to birth trauma.

In some cases, birth trauma is unavoidable. For example, larger babies tend to have a higher risk of injury during delivery. In other cases, these injuries are the direct result of delivery room errors and/or doctors’ errors. Indeed, an estimated 50 percent of birth injuries are avoidable if early detection is made and appropriate and timely action is taken to correct the problem.

One way to detect birth trauma early risk is to look for potential risk factors. Large-for-date babies who weigh over 4,500 grams will signify the risk of birth trauma. Deliveries that use forceps or vacuum, deliveries that result in vaginal breech, and deliveries that involve excessive or abnormal traction are also potential risk factors.

If your baby suffered a serious birth trauma-related injury, you and your family may be able to pursue legal claims to hold a negligent obstetrician or hospital responsible. The decision to pursue a birth trauma claim is certainly a personal one, but it can also be a financial one. Caring for a special needs child is costly, as in-home medical services, special supplies, rehabilitation services and other costs will add up fast. Through the successful pursuit of a personal injury action relating to birth trauma, parents of children affected by such injuries may be able to secure the money they will need to care for their child.

Source: Medscape, “Birth trauma: Overview,” accessed Jan. 22, 2016