The birthing process is complicated and requires an expert doctor because any medical negligence can endanger the life of the baby and the mother. Although in most cases, highly trained doctors prevent complications from risking the baby or mother’s life, sometimes a birth injury can occur.
Any harm to a baby before, during, or soon after labor classifies as a birth injury. Many babies can sustain minor injuries during the birthing process, but most of these injuries do not demand any treatment. However, in some cases, the damage may be slightly more severe and require immediate intervention. So as soon as you notice something wrong, you must seek help from a trained medical professional. Rapid and appropriate treatment can help heal birth injuries and prevent lifelong disability. But be prepared that in some cases, birth injuries are so extreme that they do not heal, resulting in permanent disability.
Difference between birth injury and birth defect
The primary difference between a birth injury and a birth defect is how they both develop. A birth defect is an abnormality in a fetus growing in the womb. Often it occurs because of using drugs, having untreated infections, etc. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declares that the fetus is most liable to develop birth defects during the first three months of pregnancy.
However, a birth injury occurs when a child is being born and is often due to the doctor’s carelessness which can cause physical harm to the baby as it passes through the birth canal. In addition, any illness the baby develops during birthing, which the doctor fails to diagnose and treat, can also lead to a birth injury. You can visit childbirthinjuries.com for more information about birth injuries.
What are some common types of injuries at birth?
Birth injuries can range in severity and impact specific body parts like the head, arms, and legs. They are a cause for concern because severe birth injuries can cause permanent mental and physical disability, resulting in lifelong impairments. Given below are a few birth injuries that occur most commonly that all expecting parents should know about.
- Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy is a neurological disorder that hinders the brain’s control of muscles and the nervous system in the body. Cerebral Palsy stems from brain damage that can occur as the baby passes through the birth canal. Cerebral Palsy is a brain injury impacting multiple areas of the body, and this condition is incurable. Although it does not improve or worsen as time progresses, it can lead to further health problems. Since this condition has no cure, you can only engage in therapy, use certain medicines and have surgery to manage the situation and improve your child’s life. Depending on the severity of the condition, children may be able to lead independent lives or may be dependent on a caregiver forever.
- Erb’s Palsy
The brachial plexus is a network of nerves in the neck region. Sometimes during a difficult delivery, the doctor can tug on the baby’s arm, stretching the baby’s neck excessively to one side. This stretching of the baby’s neck damages the brachial plexus, affecting the transmission of signals between the spinal cord and the shoulder, arms, and hands. Since the brachial nerves innervate and control the muscles in the arms, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and hands, injury in the neck region can cause partial or complete paralysis of the limb. In addition to stretching the nerves, compression of the nerves can also cause Erb’s Palsy. Nerve compression in the neck region of the baby often occurs if the mother has a very long labor.
- Facial Paralysis
The facial nerve is the most crucial nerve supporting the muscles of the face (cranial nerve 7). So if it sustains an injury before, during, or after birth, it can lead to facial paralysis. Most commonly, facial paralysis happens because of compression of the facial nerve as the baby passes through the birth canal. This injury noticeably changes the appearance of the child’s face because it causes complete paralysis or paresis, in which one half of the face paralyzes and the muscles become flaccid.
Experts at the University at Buffalo and the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital claim that infant hematomas have a prevalence ratio of 0.4% to 2.5% of all live births. When blood vessels under the infant’s skull rupture, the blood accumulates under the periosteum causing cephalohematoma. The blood often pools on the top of the head where the two parietal bones unite. The most common cause of cephalohematomas is the application of extreme force on the baby’s head during birthing. It can present as a minor or severe injury, featuring fractured bones, brain damage, and even death. Although the condition is initially painless, it can worsen fast and cause life-threatening problems. Hence doctors should closely monitor it and treat it.
- Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
The first stool that an infant passes is called meconium. Although most babies commonly pass meconium a few hours or days after birth, sometimes they can pass meconium during birthing. In such cases, the meconium can mix into the amniotic fluid. Sometimes a lack of oxygen or infection in the birth canal can put the fetus in respiratory distress, forcing it to take gasps of breath, during which the baby inhales a mixture of meconium and amniotic fluid. This mixture can go to the lungs of the baby, causing MAS. Most babies experience a full recovery after birth, but extreme cases of MAS carry a risk of long-term health complications and can cause permanent injury and even death. Life-long health issues associated with MAS include asthma, cerebral palsy, and chronic lung disease.
Although people fail to acknowledge it, birth injuries are more prevalent than most people think. They can vary from minor challenges, which are easily treatable, to significant issues that can alter the child’s life forever. There are different reasons why birth injuries happen, but the fact remains that most injuries occur due to seemingly small and careless mistakes doctors and nurses make during delivery. Medical negligence can ensue before, during, and soon after the delivery of a child. Hence parents must be aware of these common birth injuries so they can plan and act promptly.