You’ve spent 9 months eagerly anticipating the arrival of your new baby. All at once, though, your world changes forever when your infant son or daughter suffers a serious birth injury, leaving your tiny newborn in pain and suffering, or even with permanent — and often life-changing — damage. What, exactly, are these traumatic birth injuries? Simply put, they’re injuries that occur before, during or immediately after labor and delivery. However, there’s nothing “simple” about birth trauma when your child’s health or very life is at stake.
Often, through basic monitoring and skilled medical care, doctors and nurses can avoid or prevent these injuries entirely. Sadly, though, hurried or incompetent health care professionals sometimes make errors in judgement, and mistakes made during the labor and delivery process all too frequently come with a heavy, lifelong price for both the injured infants and their families. So, what are the risk factors for birth injuries, and what can doctors do to prevent them?
Birth injury risk factors
While birth injuries result in less than 2 percent of infant deaths, one death is too many. Even when the injuries are not fatal, the damage to your child may be severe and lasting. Main birth trauma risk factors include:
- Larger than average infant size
- Breech delivery
- Excessive, abnormal traction during delivery
- Improper instrumental deliveries, such as vacuum or forceps
Of course, some of these factors are difficult to control, such as the baby’s size. Others, however, are more commonly the result of medical error, such as doctors foregoing a C-section when the baby is breech or is showing signs of distress.
Preventing birth trauma
Upsettingly, studies indicate that almost half of all birth injuries are preventable with proper monitoring and recognition on the part of doctors. Physicians go through years of education and training to ensure they are able to anticipate obstetric risk factors and take the proper precautions, because failure to do so endangers the lives of both you and your baby.
Obstetricians and nurses have specific protocols to follow to ensure fetal safety and the health of newborns, including monitoring for signs of distress, so that if and when life-threatening situations arise, they can relay the information or take immediate action to save the lives of their patients. Failing to do so, or doing so inappropriately through the improper use of instruments like forceps, can lead to a number of serious injuries, including (but not limited to):
- Tissue damage and abrasions
- Brain damage
Of course, birth trauma varies in severity, and some birth injuries have more favorable long-term outcomes than others. Some, though, are serious, lasting or permanent, if not fatal. For example, fetal brain damage is one of the most common type of injury to occur during labor and delivery, when nurses or physicians do not notice or quickly attend to fetal distress. Whenever an incident during birth deprives a baby of oxygen, brain damage can quickly occur if steps are not immediately taken to address the issue.
Injured newborns who are lucky enough to survive a doctor’s incompetence or negligence often require ongoing, costly medical care and treatment, even when the long-term prognosis is favorable. No amount of money can restore your baby’s health, but if your infant suffered serious negative effects due to a New Mexico physician’s careless error or poor judgement, there are professional legal resources available in the Albuquerque area to review the details of your case and help you fight for compensation to get your baby the care he or she needs.