Risk Factors for Birth Injuries
If you have recently given birth and your baby seems to be having health problems, you may be wondering if your child is suffering from a birth injury or birth defect. The big difference between a birth injury and a birth defect is that a birth defects are something a person is medically predisposed to and should have been detected before birth. Birth injuries are injuries that are sustained during the process of delivery. So if you had every reason to believe that you were going to deliver a perfectly healthy baby, but instead, your child seems to have been hurt in some way, they may have suffered a birth injury.
The unfortunate reality is that most birth injuries are completely preventable and are caused by things like miscommunication regarding a patient’s history. But the risk of a birth injury increases when a delivery becomes complicated for one reason or another. When delivery becomes more difficult, injury becomes more likely because there’s a chance fetal distress wasn’t properly monitored, tools are used incorrectly, or a problem wasn’t properly diagnosed. Some of the conditions most strongly linked to birth injuries include:
When a labor takes an unusually long time, it’s more likely the child could suffer from caput succedanum, which can cause bruising or swelling of a child’s scalp shortly after delivery. Although not a life threatening condition, it can increase the risk of jaundice, or cause other brain injuries. Caput succedanum can be caused by a child’s head being exposed to too much pressure from the birth canal during delivery, particularly if it’s no longer being protected by the amniotic sac. Since a prolonged labor and delivery might involve the assistance of tools, it’s possible for a child to be injured if these tools aren’t used properly.
Labor can become prolonged for many reasons, such as if the child is too large, the mother’s pelvis is too small, the baby is an unusual position, or the child is in distress. In situations like these, the delivery could end in an emergency c-section. However, sometimes it can take too long for an emergency c-section to be ordered and as a result, the baby could have already sustained an injury from being exposed to too much pressure or oxygen deprivation. The c-section itself could also result in lacerations on the child if an incision is made too deeply.
When a child is in a breech or other abnormal position at the time of delivery, delivery becomes complicated for many reasons. It’s more likely for the child to become stuck and either require the assistance of tools or an emergency c-section. If a child becomes stuck, it’s likely they could sustain bruising, broken bones, a brachial plexus injury or Erb’s palsy, which could be caused by a doctor pulling too hard on a child’s arm to help dislodge the baby.
Babies born before the 37th week of pregnancy are more likely to suffer from birth injuries because of the fact that the baby hasn’t fully developed by that point and are therefore need to be handled with extra care. When a child is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy, they are at a greater risk of several types of birth injuries, including caput succedanum, injuries caused by oxygen deprivation, and fractures.