Childbirth Injury Statistics: Boys Versus Girls
Every year, approximately 28,000 people in the United States are born with a birth injury. Many factors can result in birth injuries, including the size of the baby, the baby’s position, maternal health conditions, the use of tools during delivery, and negligence of medical professionals attending the birth. But you might be surprised to learn that baby boys actually have a higher rate of birth injuries than baby girls. About 6.68 of every 1,000 birth injuries involve male infants, whereas the rate for female infants is 5.08 of every 1,000. Is there a reason why baby boys are more likely to be impacted by birth injuries?
There is some research to suggest that female infants might be better protected from brain injuries. In a study published in 2016, researchers at the Waisman Center of the University of Wisconsin, found that while both male and female mice have an estrogen receptor protein in their brains, female mice have a higher level of it than male mice and this protein may help protect female newborns from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). HIE occurs when there is reduced oxygen and low blood flow to the brain and other vital organs just before or after delivery. HIE caused by asphyxia is the leading cause of infant fatalities and even if it isn’t fatal, it can still have some very serious effects, including developmental delays, epilepsy, and cognitive difficulties.
Another reason why male infants may have a higher rate of birth injuries is the fact that they also have a higher rate of having fetal macrosomia. According to the Mayo Clinic, fetal macrosomia is a condition which occurs when an infant’s weight is 8 pounds, 13 ounces or higher. Approximately 9 percent of babies born worldwide weigh more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces. The larger the baby is, the risk of injury also increases. Shoulder dystocia is commonly associated with fetal macrosomia, which is when the child’s shoulder gets stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone. When shoulder dystocia occurs, it places the baby at risk for brachial plexus injuries, nerve damage, bone fractures, Erb’s palsy, and Klumpke’s palsy. In some cases, a larger-than-average baby might experience a lack of oxygen during delivery, which can potentially result in problems such as cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities.
Regardless of why an injury occurs, the sad reality is that many birth injuries are preventable. If your child was injured during delivery or shortly after birth, don’t hesitate to contact a birth trauma lawyer. Sometimes, the full extent of a birth injury might not be known until years after birth and even then, it’s not too late to talk to a lawyer. It’s extremely upsetting to know that your child was injured and may be facing long-term problems because of it. A lawyer will be able to help answer any questions you have and work with you to figure out which steps to take next.