May 25, 2021
An adverse event that occurs during labor and delivery can cause a birth injury in the infant. Birth injuries can range in severity from minor to major, as a top birth injury lawyer knows, like one from Hall Justice Law Firm. Some birth injuries resolve on their own, some require intervention to resolve, and others can cause lifelong disability.
Bone fractures in newborns can occur when the presentation is abnormal, e.g., the baby exits the birth canal bottom-first instead of headfirst, or when the extraction is difficult. The most common bone fracture to occur in newborns is a break of the collarbone. Fractures of the long bones or ribs are possible, but very rare. Bone fractures in newborns usually heal eventually, but require immobilization for several weeks and may require intervention by an orthopedic surgeon.
2. Nerve Injuries
The most common nerve injuries to occur at birth are to the facial nerve and the brachial plexus. The facial nerve controls expressions, and a baby with an injury to the facial nerve may have a lopsided appearance due to partial paralysis. Facial nerve injuries often occur due to pressure on the facial nerve if it was pressed up against the mother’s spine during delivery. Another risk factor is assisted delivery with forceps. Facial nerve injury often resolves on its own.
The brachial plexus is a cluster of nerves in the neck that provides neural signals to the arm. Injury to the brachial plexus can occur due to stretching during a difficult delivery. It can result in partial or total paralysis of the arm. This may be resolved with physical therapy, but lasting weakness can occur.
3. Head Trauma
Head trauma from a birth injury can include skull fractures and hemorrhages. The former may be a cause of the latter. Intracranial hemorrhages occur inside the skull, while extracranial hemorrhages occur outside it. Extracranial hemorrhages affect the periosteum, which is a membrane covering the bone that, in children, helps it to grow. Intracranial hemorrhage can occur in the brain itself or between the brain and the skull. Extracranial hemorrhages are often treated conservatively, while intracranial hemorrhages may require surgery to remove the collected blood.
4. Spinal Cord Injuries
Excessive rotation or traction on the spinal cord during birth can result in an injury. If it affects the lower spine, it can result in bowel and bladder dysfunction and significant morbidity. An injury to the upper spine is more likely to cause death. Fortunately, birth injuries involving the spinal cord are very rare.
Even if your baby’s birth injury is treatable, it may require a lot of expensive interventions to resolve. Contact one of our attorneys if you think a doctor’s mistake may have contributed to your child’s injury.