Child Birth Injuries or Trauma
Child birth-related injuries or trauma usually happen during transit through the birth canal. An injury to a baby may occur due to the size or position of the baby during labor and delivery, or may be related to factors that restrict blood flow or oxygen intake. Injuries such as bruising or forceps marks will usually resolve within a few weeks, while other injuries may have serious consequences and may cause permanent injury to a baby.
Types of common birth-related injuries include:
- Bruising and Forceps Marks - Bruising on the face or head simply from passing though the birth canal and from associated contact with the mother's pelvic bones and tissues. If forceps are used during delivery, they may leave temporary marks or bruises on the baby's head. Vacuum extraction can also cause bruising to the head, and may cause a scalp laceration.
- Fractured Bones - The most common bone fracture is to the clavicle (collar bone), usually during difficult births or breech delivery. In most cases, the baby recovers quickly once the bone is immobilized.
- Caput Succedaneum - This is a severe swelling of the baby's scalp, and is more likely to occur as a result of vacuum extraction. The swelling will ordinarily disappear within a few days.
- Subconjunctival Hemorrhage - This temporary birth injury results in bright red band around the iris of one or both of the baby's eyes and usually disappears completely within a week to ten days.
- Cephalohematoma - This condition refers to a collection of blood under the scalp of the newborn infant and will ordinarily resolve within two weeks to three months.
- Facial Paralysis - Pressure on the baby's face during labor or birth, or the use of forceps during childbirth, may cause injury to a baby's facial nerves. If a nerve is merely bruised, the paralysis will ordinarily clear up within a few weeks. With more severe nerve damage, it may be necessary to surgically repair the damaged facial nerves.
- Brachial Palsy Injuries (Erb's Palsy and Klumpke's Palsy) - Brachial plexus stretch injuries in newborns usually occur during a difficult delivery, such as with a large baby, a breech presentation, or a prolonged labor. It may also happen when a physician must deliver the baby quickly and exert some force to pull the baby from the birth canal. If one side of the baby's neck is stretched severely, the nerves may also be stretched, causing the injury. Most often, it is the upper nerves that are affected. This brachial plexus birth palsy is known as Erb's palsy. The infant may not be able to move the arm, but may be able to move the fingers. In severe cases, there may be permanent nerve damage, and physical therapy and surgery may be required.
- Brain Injury - Birth difficulties can result in oxygen deprivation to the baby as a result of blood loss, or the twisting or compression of the umbilical cord. Prolonged oxygen deprivation can cause brain damage, and may result in seizure disorders, cerebral palsy, or mental impairment.
Types of child birth malpractice claims
Many birth-related injuries are not the result of medical malpractice. However, it is heartbreaking when serious injury or death to a newborn may have been avoidable. Some of the types of malpractice cases we have seen in our practice include the following:
- Failure to respond to fetal distress
- Failing to anticipate birth complications with a larger baby, or in cases involving maternal health complications
- Failure to respond appropriately to bleeding
- Failing to observe or respond to umbilical cord entrapment
- Delay in ordering cesarean section
- Misuse of forceps or a vacuum extractor during delivery
- Inappropriate administration of Pitocin (a drug administered to induce labor)
Tampa Medical Malpractice Attorneys
If you or someone you love have suffered a complication from child birth, please contact the experienced, Board-certified Tampa medical malpractice attorneys at Alley, Clark & Greiwe for a free consultation regarding your legal remedies available under Florida law.