Birth injuries are often caused by complications during labor and delivery. Errors on the part of the obstetrician, failure to diagnose conditions being suffered by the mother, and complications such as high birth weight can all play a role in causing birth defects. Incidents which occur during pregnancy, such as trauma or ingestion of medications or substances, may also cause birth injuries and defects.
Delivery Birth Injury Causes
Complications during delivery are a main cause of birth injuries. Common complications that cause harm to infants are prolonged labor and the baby’s positioning at the time of labor. If the baby is positioned so that the legs or buttocks appear first, it is called a breech birth and may cause injury. If labor is prolonged, the baby may lose circulation or suffer from oxygen deficiencies in different areas of the body.
Birth Weight and Proportion
The birth weight of the baby may also cause complications that result in birth defects. If the baby is too small, which often results from premature birth, the baby is more likely to suffer injuries or develop conditions. If the baby is larger than expected, vaginal birth may be dangerous for both the baby and the mother. The size and shape of the mother’s pelvis may also make vaginal delivery dangerous. Skilled obstetricians may be able to anticipate these complications and make recommendations in order to mitigate the risk of birth defects.
Umbilical Cord Compression
The baby receives oxygen and nutrients through the umbilical cord all the way through until birth. If the umbilical cord is compressed it can cause oxygen deprivation and nutritional deficiencies. If a portion of the umbilical cord precedes the baby’s head during delivery, it is called a cord prolapse. This is a medical emergency for which an emergency cesarean section must be ordered. In some cases, an umbilical cord prolapse can be difficult to detect, so obstetricians must be alert for the complication.
Malpractice Birth Injury Causes
Malpractice is another common cause of birth injuries. It is considered medical malpractice in any situation that a physician fails to react reasonably to a situation. This type of malpractice can occur at the time of delivery, during prenatal care, or during follow –up care.
Negligence and errors resulting in birth defects that may be considered malpractice include:
- Misuse of forceps or a vacuum extractor
- Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose conditions in the mother or baby
- Failure to respond to bleeding in a timely and appropriate manner
- Failure or delay in ordering cesarean section when necessary
- Delayed or inappropriate response to umbilical cord entrapment
- Delayed or inappropriate response to fetal distress
Use of Pitocin
Pitocin is synthetic oxytocin, and is sometimes used to induce or speed labor. If Pitocin is used in an inappropriate circumstance or too much of the drug is given, it can result in oxygen deprivation to the baby. Pitocin can change the frequency and strength of contractions, which can be harmful to babies in a number of different ways. In some cases, this has caused brain damage and even death.
Many prescription medications may cause birth injuries. If a physician prescribes a medication which is known to cause birth injuries, it may be considered malpractice. In some situations, physicians may weigh the benefits and risks if the medication is necessary for the health and well being of the mother. If the patient is unaware of the risks, or if the physician fails to utilize other means to treat a condition, it can be considered negligence. Read more about our Torticollis Lawyers here.
Birth Injury Malpractice Cases
In the case of a birth injury that may have been caused by malpractice, the parents of the infant should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Statute of Limitations laws require medical malpractice cases to be filed within a certain timeframe, which may vary by state. Attorneys may be able to assist patients in compiling documentation and reviewing medical records to prove that malpractice was the cause of birth injuries.
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