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7 Common Delivery Issues That Lead to Birth Injuries
An expectant mother and their child can experience complications at any point during a pregnancy, but it is during labor and delivery when the dangers – and the potential for catastrophic errors by physicians and nurses – are the greatest. Indeed, not everything that can go wrong in a delivery room is the result of medical malpractice. However, when the medical professionals we entrust with the health and life of a child and a mother fail to use the judgment, make the decisions, and provide the care necessary to prevent harm to the mother and child, it can constitute medical malpractice.
Seven of the most common delivery issues that lead to birth injuries and are often the basis of birth injury claims for compensation include:
- Lack of oxygen to the brain (anoxia and hypoxia). Anoxia is the medical term for a complete lack of oxygen to the brain, while hypoxia refers to an insufficient supply of oxygen. Babies in the womb receive oxygenated blood from the mother through the placenta and umbilical cord Anoxic or hypoxic brain injuries occur when a problem develops with the delivery of oxygen to the child’s brain. The brain is particularly vulnerable to oxygen deprivation, and infant brain damage as a result of a lack or insufficient supply of oxygen to the brain can lead to lifelong developmental disabilities, permanent brain damage, or death.
- Premature delivery. Forty weeks is about the length of a typical full-term pregnancy. Every week the child grows in the womb is a week more of development necessary for a child to thrive during and immediately after delivery. But if a mother starts having contractions and delivers a baby before 37 weeks, the child could be vulnerable to severe complications of prematurity, including immature lungs, respiratory distress, and digestive problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 10% of babies born in the U.S. are premature.
- Prolonged labor and delivery. Also called a “failure to progress,” prolonged delivery can pose serious risks to a mother and baby beyond simply additional hours of contractions and labor pains. For first-time mothers, labor is considered “prolonged” if it lasts longer than 18 hours or if the baby is not delivered within three hours after the cervix is fully dilated. For women who have had previous pregnancies, labor is considered prolonged if she fails to deliver within two hours of complete cervical dilation.
- Umbilical cord issues. The umbilical cord is a baby’s lifeline, supplying it with the vital oxygen and nutrients it needs for healthy development. But the umbilical cord can sometimes get looped around a baby’s neck, causing compression and a decrease in blood and oxygen flow. During labor, this can also decrease blood flow and cause sudden, short drops in fetal heart rate, which need to be monitored and addressed. Cord compression happens in about one in every ten deliveries.
- Abnormal presentation. When a child’s head is not positioned correctly when contractions begin, it can make delivery much more complicated and can increase a woman's risk for uterine or birth canal injuries and abnormal labor. Breech babies – where the child’s buttocks or feet are pointed down toward the birth canal – are examples of abnormal presentation. Breech babies are at a higher risk of injury and umbilical cord issues, among other complications.
- Placental abruption. The placenta, which develops in the uterus and is attached to the uterine wall, provides oxygen and nutrients to a baby during pregnancy. In a routine delivery, the placenta detaches from the uterus after the child is delivered. However, the placenta separates from the uterus before delivery in an estimated 1 out of every 100 pregnancies. Placental abruption, as this condition is known, can result in low birth weight, preterm delivery, asphyxia, stillbirth, and perinatal death, and can also put the mother at risk for hemorrhaging which in the most severe cases can be fatal.
- Preeclampsia. High blood pressure in an expectant mother – preeclampsia - can be a sign that some of the mother’s vital organs may not be functioning as they should. It is critical that doctors, nurses, and delivery room personnel detect the signs of preeclampsia as soon as possible. Failure to treat preeclampsia can lead to liver, kidney, or brain damage to the mother, and in the most serious situations, can leave the mother vulnerable to eclampsia, which can result in seizures, coma, and death.
Contact Our Tampa Birth Injury Attorneys Today
If you are grieving over the loss of your infant during labor or delivery and have questions about how and why such a tragedy happened, please call the experienced and compassionate Tampa birth injury lawyers at the law firm of Alley, Clark & Greiwe. We are Board-certified trial attorneys and have been recognized by the legal community for their experience and knowledge in litigating claims for individuals and families who have been victims of serious medical errors. Please call us at 813-222-0977 or contact us online to arrange for your free case evaluation.