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Factors that increase the risk of birth trauma

Getting ready for the birth of a baby is one of the most exciting times in the life of a new mother or father. While expectant parents can have all the baby supplies ready and the hospital bag packed, nothing can prepare them for the stress and grief that can occur in the delivery room. Birth trauma happens to relatively few newborns, with Medscape reporting that only six to eight infants will be injured for every 1,000 babies born, but those families that do experience this can be physically and emotionally damaged for life.

Risk factors

While all babies are capable of being injured during delivery, there are certain factors that will increase the chances of it happening to your baby:

  • Breech delivery: If the baby is in breech position, he or she will often be delivered via C-section. A vaginal delivery in this state can increase the risk of the child suffering birth trauma.
  • Big babies: Having a larger baby can also raise the chances that an injury will occur, with babies weighing over 9.92 lbs. being at the highest risk.
  • Resuscitation: While less common, the attempt by medical professionals to resuscitate a baby can lead to additional injuries.
  • Forced delivery: When a doctor tries to speed up the delivery by using a vacuum or forceps, the chances that birth trauma will occur are significantly increased.
  • Abnormal traction: When there is an excess of traction or abnormal pattern during delivery, there is a raised risk that the baby will be harmed.

While some of these factors are impossible for doctors and mothers to predict and prevent, there are others that happen when a medical professional fails to correctly assess risks and make informed decisions.

Trauma outcomes

While some of these factors are likelier to cause birth trauma than others, the outcomes are generally favorable and issues tend to resolve with little medical intervention. The percentage of stillbirths and neonatal deaths that are caused by severe birth injuries is less than 2 percent, but several long-term side effects are possible. Infants who endure trauma can receive cuts from scalpels or forceps that lead to infection. Spinal injuries and nerve damage can occur when the babies are rotated and overstretched at the same time in an attempt to pull them out, and facial nerves can be damaged by compression from the forceps blade. These are just a few of the many possible injuries that can occur.

Researchers predict that up to half of all injuries caused during delivery could be avoided if doctors anticipated risks and made better decisions. If you or your child has been injured due to birth trauma, contact an experienced attorney for guidance on the next steps to take in your case.

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