Most birth injuries occur as the baby transits through its mother’s birth canal, and fortunately, most are minor that resolve without the need for treatment. Medical advances have greatly reduced the frequency of these incidents, but they do still occur on occasion.
There are many reasons why a birth injury can occur, and some are simply unavoidable. But other times, the obstetrician or other medical provider bears liability for the infant’s injuries.
Sometimes this presents as either brain damage or head injuries which may stem from the obstetrician failing to notice that the mother’s birth canal was too narrow for a vaginal delivery to succeed. Other times, the too-forceful use of forceps during delivery can result in head injuries. Some may be minor and resolve within weeks or months. Others may leave a child with permanent physical of mental disabilities, or even result in the infant’s death.
Nerve injuries to the face also can be caused by the use of forceps. Other nerve injuries can be caused by an especially large infant that does not pass easily through the birth canal. An arm may become paralyzed due to the cramped conditions the fetus was in just prior to birth. Surgery can sometimes reattach nerves to allow full or partial range of motion.
When the spinal cord is involved, it can be very serious and result in lifelong disabilities.
While many parents of infants suffering from birth injuries likely want to attribute their child’s injuries to a doctor’s negligence, not all incidents will rise to that level. For those that due, however, filing a malpractice suit is one way to achieve parity in the situation and cover some expenses the child’s injury will engender.
Source: Merck Manuals, “Birth Injury,” Arthur E. Kopelman, MD, accessed Dec. 02, 2016