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Intra-abdominal injuries caused at birth

While most New Mexico parents expect to experience a normal, safe child birth, there are certain injuries that can be suffered by the infant during the birthing process. Though it is rare, an intra-abdominal injury could cause an infant to die if the signs are missed. While many infants begin to show the signs almost immediately following the delivery, the indications of the injury could become apparent within several hours to a few days after the child was born.

The most common intra-abdominal injury to occur in infants is to the liver. There are several types of lacerations that may occur to the liver include a subcapsular hematoma and a splenic rupture. These lesions can by caused by a pull on the peritoneal support ligaments or, if the child suffered asphyxia, by the resuscitation effort. There are a number of predisposing factors that may increase an infant's risk of suffering an intra-abdominal laceration, including postmaturity, prematurity and coagulation disorders.

If the infant exhibits symptoms of shock, pallor or abdominal distension, the possibility that the infant may have suffered an intra-abdominal injury should be considered. While paracentesis is the procedure that best shows any potential injuries, radiographic evidence may show free peritoneal fluid. If it is believed that the infant suffered an injury, it is likely that an immediate blood infusion will be required followed by a transfusion of platelets, among other therapy.

If an infant suffers a birth injury during labor or delivery and the doctors fail to diagnose the problem, the family may wish to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. If there is evidence that the infant's injury was caused by negligence or delivery room errors, the family may seek compensation for the cost of future treatment that will be required.

Source: Medscape, "Intra-Abdominal Injury", Nirupama Laroia, Feb. 2, 2015

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