The Psychological Effects of Birth Trauma
Birth injuries are relatively rare, but when they do happen, they have the potential to have some very serious effects. While many types of birth injuries can be treated without any major long-term effects, more severe injuries can last for the rest of the child’s life. But are physical injuries the only type of damage birth trauma can cause? Do birth injuries ever have any psychological effects on the child?
A recent study by New King’s College found that adults who had been born prematurely and suffered mild brain injuries around the time of birth were more likely to have lower levels of dopamine than other adults who had either been born prematurely without injury or adults who were born at term. Since dopamine is associated with personal enjoyment and learning, lower levels of dopamine can be linked to depression and difficulty focusing at school or work later in life.
Since birth injuries can result in scarring, disfigurements, disabilities, developmental delays, a child may struggle to understand or accept their condition as they get older. They might have a difficult time understanding why they have the condition that they do or feel like they’re being punished for something they did. Or as the child begins spending more time with other children their age, they may start developing anxiety or depression if they feel different from the other children. If their injury resulted in an intellectual disability, they may continue to deal with depression as they progress through school if they’re having a hard time keeping up with their peers.
Children aren’t the only ones who may experience psychological effects as a result of birth injuries. Mothers who have been through particularly difficult births often experience a wide range of mental health issues afterward, including anxiety and depression. If the mother experienced physical injuries during her difficult birth, having to care for her own injuries makes the already stressful situation of having to care for a newborn even more upsetting. Depending on the extent of the mother’s trauma, she might begin to withdraw socially or have a difficult time bonding with her new child. A mother whose child has a birth injury may also struggle with feelings of guilt, like there’s something she could have done to protect her child, even if it was caused by something completely beyond her control.
The effects of a birth injury aren’t always easy to spot right away. It may take years before the full extent of a birth injury to become known and that includes any psychological effects. If your child suffered an injury during birth, or you were injured during a difficult birth and feel like it could have been prevented, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a birth trauma lawyer. Just because psychological effects aren’t physical, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a significant impact on your life.