Common Causes of Birth Injuries
The birth of a child is supposed to be a joyous occasion, but unfortunately, there are so many things that can go wrong and turn that happy event into a very upsetting one. 6-8 out of every 1,000 infants in the United States are born with a birth injury. The sad reality is that most birth injuries are completely preventable. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that 30% of birth injuries are the result of miscommunications between doctors and other medical staff. In many other cases, birth injuries are caused by medical malpractice.
It’s important to note that there is a difference between a birth injury and a birth defect. Birth injuries are injuries that occur during the birthing process. Birth defects are most commonly caused by a genetic predisposition, but can also be caused by certain medications (SSRI medications, Accutane, certain types of antibiotics, NSAIDs, seizure medications) during pregnancy.
Misdiagnosis is another leading cause of birth injuries. If your doctor failed to diagnose you with gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, did not order proper tests or screenings, or failed to notice fetal distress or other health problems, their failure to diagnose could potentially lead to a birth injury. Oxygen deprivation can quickly cause lasting brain injuries if oxygen intake isn’t being properly monitored. A doctor also might have failed to order a caesarean in a timely manner when the baby is too large or breech, making labor more prolonged and difficult than it needed to be. Labors that last 18 hours or longer can put excessive pressure on the baby’s brain and result in birth injuries.
Other medical professionals assisting with the birth could act in ways that cause injuries. Nurses and other hospital staff could cause injuries by picking up your baby improperly or by administering an incorrect dosage of medication to the mother or her baby. Choosing to give birth at home with the assistance of a midwife does not completely prevent the risk of harm from nursing errors. Although midwives are trained to handle childbirth, they are not doctors and often aren’t trained to handle emergency situations beyond calling 911.
Although many birth injuries are about injuries caused to babies, mothers can be the victims of birth injuries as well if a cesarean is performed incorrectly, hemorrhaging goes uncontrolled, medical tools are used incorrectly,or medicine is given improperly. Not all birth injuries are physical; particularly difficult births can leave women with PTSD. When mothers suffer from birth injuries, they not only have the stress of adjusting to life with a new baby, they also have to deal with additional health problems that need additional medical care, surgeries, or therapy to deal with.