While most women look forward to giving birth, the fact is that labor can be a lengthy and traumatic process both for the mother and the child. While most babies in the United States are delivered with few if any complications, a small percentage of infants will suffer some kind of complication during delivery. About 29 out of every 1000 babies delivered in US hospitals suffer from some kind of birth trauma, which may result from the improper use of equipment during the delivery itself, or poor handling of the newborn shortly after delivery. Here is what you should know if you suspect that your child may be suffering from birth trauma.

What Is a Birth Injury?

Birth trauma is an injury caused during the birth of a child that has long-lasting effects on that child’s health or well-being. Birth trauma may cause physical or mental damage to the child, and, while the effects of the trauma generally dissipate over time, they may cause life-long issues for the child.

What Causes Birth Injuries?

Birth Injuries are often caused by improper monitoring, of the baby’s heart rate for example, during the birth process. Unnecessarily long deliveries cause the baby to be lodged in the birth canal or go without adequate oxygen for too long, and these issues also lead to birth injuries. Births that require the use of specialized instruments are also more likely to result in birth trauma, as are the births of larger or heavier babies. Larger babies are more likely to have birth injuries because doctors may need to use their hands or forceps in order to deliver the baby. Other problems could occur as a result of anesthesia errors.

What Are Some Common Forms of Birth Injuries and Trauma?

The two most common general types of birth trauma are fractures and broken bones, and nerve damage caused by compressing pressure points on the newborn’s body. Broken bones can usually be identified by the excess bruising and swelling in the area of the break, and often occur in the area of the baby’s face or head. Nerve damage is recognizable by the partial paralysis, palsy, or slow reflexes it causes in the affected area. Both types of injury most often result from the squeezing or pulling necessary to extract the baby from the birth canal. Cerebral Palsy is also a relatively uncommon, but very serious condition associated with birth injuries and birth trauma.

How Do I Identify Birth Injuries?

Birth injuries may be difficult to identify at first, since a certain amount of bumps and bruising are normal following a difficult birth. You can identify genuine birth trauma by bruising or swelling that is slow to fade. Trauma that results in nerve damage is generally more easy to identify. It may result in a host of symptoms, including restricted movement, paralysis, “floppy” baby, and twitching or palsy. This type of injury generally becomes apparent within a few hours or a few days following the birth. However, a medical examination is usually required to determine the exact type and full extent of the injury a newborn has suffered. Missing developmental milestones can also be evidence of a birth injury.

What Can I Do If My Child Has Suffered a Birth Injury?

If you believe your child may have suffered a birth injury it is crucial that you immediately seek both the medical and legal assistance that you and your child need. You may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, which could help you cover the costs of treatment and long-term care for your baby; however, it is important to be aware that there is typically a statute of limitations and you must file your lawsuit before this deadline passes. Please contact McGehee ☆ Chang, Barnes, Landgraf so that we can review your case and advise you on your legal rights and options.