Infant Bruising, Bleeding, and Seizures Linked to Birth Trauma
Even under the best of circumstances, labor and delivery are extremely difficult for both the mother and the baby. It’s very easy for physical trauma to happen to the mother’s body and it’s not at all uncommon for babies to be born with some level of bruising or lacerations, even during an easy delivery. Generally, these types of injuries will simply heal on their own over time, but it’s important to remember that not all injuries are normal. In fact, some of them can be signs of a birth injury.
Cuts and Bruising
Cuts and bruises are extremely common in newborn infants, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always harmless. In many cases, these types of injuries are caused by birth-assisting tools such as forceps or vacuum extractors. While some cuts are superficial, they can potentially be severe enough to require stitches.
Although most types of bruises are superficial, not all bruising is. In fact, not all types of bruises are even visible from the surface of the skin. Some types of bruises affect bones and muscle tissue. Bruising near an infant’s eye area could potentially impact the child’s eyesight.
When birth-assisting tools are used improperly, they can cause severe head trauma or brain bleeds in infants, including subarachnoid hemorrhages, subdural hemorrhages or hematomas, or intraventricular hemorrhages.
Intraventricular hemorrhages are most common in premature infants and infants with a low birth weight. These are the most severe types of hemorrhages and can show themselves through symptoms such as lethargy, changes in blood pressure or heart rate, pauses in breathing, excessive sleeping, or seizures. Symptoms of a subdural hemorrhage can include seizures, bulging fontanelles (soft spots), and feeding difficulties. Subarachnoid hemorrhages are the most common type of brain bleed in infants and they’re extremely serious. They’re a type of stroke and can show itself through breathing difficulties, irritability, lethargy, seizures, and feeding problems.
While some types of infant brain bleeds can be treated without resulting in any long-lasting effects, more severe hemorrhages can cause cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, or physical impairments.
Infant seizures are a common sign of head trauma, but that’s not the only thing that causes them. Seizures can also be a symptom of oxygen deprivation during delivery. It’s believed that about 80% of neonatal seizures (seizures that occur within a few days of birth) are caused by Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), or birth asphyxia. In many cases, oxygen deprivation occurs when the umbilical cord becomes compressed, issues with the placenta, or other types distress that delays delivery.
Each of these injuries is more likely to occur when complications arise during delivery. They often occur in births where an infant is born prematurely (before 37 weeks), when the infant is in a breech position, or when the baby is too large to fit through the mother’s pelvis. Medical professionals have a responsibility to take reasonable measures to try and prevent complications during delivery and to react quickly and appropriately when complications happen unexpectedly.
If you had a difficult delivery and you believe your child was injured as a result, contact a birth trauma lawyer as soon as possible. They’ll listen to the details of your situation and help you figure out what steps to take next.