Bringing a child into this world can be one of the most beautiful yet traumatic days of a mother’s life. At this time, a woman and her baby deserve the very best care from their healthcare professionals both during the pregnancy and the delivery. Unfortunately, not all deliveries and pregnancies go as planned and can result in a birth injury or trauma. Birth injury statistics may be alarming but it’s important to understand the risk factors of certain injuries and when the injury may have been caused by medical negligence.
In This Article:
- Most Common Birth Injuries
- Key Birth Injury Statistics
- Birth Injury Risk Factors
- Infant Fatality Statistics
- Birth Injury Caused by Medical Negligence
Most Common Birth Injuries
There are several ways a baby can be injured during childbirth. Sometimes, there is nothing that could have been done to prevent them. Other times, birth injuries may be the result of a missed diagnosis during pregnancy. In other cases, doctors may have to use methods involving forceps or vacuums to help aid in the delivery. While these more aggressive techniques may be required to save the baby’s life, doctors are expected to use the utmost care when performing these procedures. Here are a few of the most common birth injuries. Note that this is not an exhaustive list.
- Cerebral palsy. A group of neurological disorders that affect a person’s movement, posture, and muscle coordination.
- Erb’s palsy. A condition resulting from damage to the brachial plexus nerves, causing weakness or paralysis in the arm and shoulder typically due to birth trauma
- Shoulder dystocia. A childbirth complication where a baby’s head passes through the birth canal but their shoulders get stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone, potentially leading to complications during delivery.
- Brachial plexus injury. Damage to the network of nerves controlling the arm and hand, often caused by trauma during childbirth or accidents, resulting in weakness or loss of function in the affected limb.
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). A brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation and reduced blood flow, often occurs during birth, which can lead to neurological and developmental issues in newborns.
- Bruising and marks from forceps. Physical discoloration and marks on the baby’s skin caused by the use of forceps during delivery.
- Brain and scalp swelling or hemorrhaging. Abnormal accumulation of blood or fluid within the brain and on the scalp. Commonly caused by vacuum birth injuries.
- Facial paralysis. Loss of voluntary muscle control in the facial area due to nerve damage, potentially arising from pressure during delivery or other causes.
- Spinal cord injuries. Usually, permanent injuries in the spine are damaged by the birthing process and/or assistive delivery techniques.
These injuries can happen even when the very best care is provided. The birthing process is a traumatic event both for the mother and the baby and the risk of injury may be taken to avoid the risk of death. However, these injuries may be the result of medical negligence if a doctor or other healthcare professionals involved with the birth do not meet the standard of care. In this case, contacting a birth injury lawyer is likely the best course of action to hold negligent parties accountable and receive compensation to cover the financial consequences of their mistake.
Key Birth Injury Statistics
Understanding birth injury statistics may be helpful to understand your situation or your loved one’s situation. While some women may be more at risk than others (we’ll discuss risk factors later), birth injuries can affect anyone regardless of age, race, ethnicity, or socio-economic background. Birth injuries can occur on any part of the infant’s body but 80% of all birth traumas occur on the scalp. Fortunately, due to improvements in obstetrical techniques, birth trauma rates have drastically declined over the years. However, one study’s birth injury statistics show that neonatal birth trauma remains prevalent at 31.1 per 1,000 hospital births.
Here are a few more key birth injury statistics that are helpful to know:
- In the United States, birth injuries occur in 7 in every 1,000 babies.
- Birth injuries occur most commonly in rural areas.
- Mothers between the years of 25 and 34 are at a higher risk for birth injuries caused by assisted delivery tools.
- 1 in every 1000 babies are born with Erb’s palsy.
- 2.3 to 3.6 in every 1,000 babies have Cerebral palsy.
Birth Injury Risk Factors
As mentioned, some birth injuries cannot be avoided. This may be due to maternal risk factors and or infant risk factors.
Maternal Risk Factors
Maternal risk factors that can impact the likelihood of a birth injury are only conditions of the mother herself. These include:
- Certain pelvis shapes or sizes
- Maternal obesity,
- Difficult labor or delivery
- Prolonged labor
- Small maternal stature
- Prolonged or rapid labor
- Dephalopelvic disproportion
- Maternal diabetes
Infant Risk Factors
Conversely, infant risk factors concern only the condition of the baby including:
- Macrosomia (Babies weighing over 8 pounds and 13 ounces)
- Prematurity (Babies born before the 37th week of pregnancy)
- Macrocephaly (large head circumference)
- Abnormal fetal position
- Very low birth weight and extreme prematurity
- Fetal congenital anomalies
- breech presentation and other abnormal presentations (such as the face, brow, or transverse)
Infant Fatality Statistics
Infant refers to the unfortunate passing of infants before their first birthday, which holds profound implications for maternal and infant well-being. The infant mortality rate is quantified as the number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births and serves as a crucial metric reflecting the overall health status of a society. In the context of the United States, this statistic is particularly pertinent. In the year 2020, the nation’s infant mortality rate stood at 5.4 deaths per 1,000 live births, indicating the sobering reality that approximately 20,000 infants faced untimely deaths within that year alone. Illinois’ infant mortality rate lies just under the national average at 5.3 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Delving into the primary contributors to this distressing phenomenon reveals a range of underlying factors. The five leading causes of infant mortality in the United States during 2020 are as follows:
- Birth defects
- Preterm birth and low birth weight
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Injuries (e.g., suffocation)
- Maternal pregnancy complications
These statistics underscore the urgency of comprehensive healthcare strategies, research, and community support to address the multifaceted challenges surrounding infant mortality and promote the well-being of both mothers and their infants.
Birth Injury Caused by Medical Negligence
Birth injuries resulting from medical negligence are a distressing reality that can leave families grappling with both emotional and physical trauma. Medical negligence occurs when healthcare professionals deviate from the standard of care when delivering a child or monitoring prenatal health. This may look like:
- Mismanagement of recognized complications.
- Inadequate fetal and maternal monitoring during labor.
- Oxygen deprivation due to delayed action or misuse of birthing instruments.
- Failure to perform a necessary cesarean section (C-section)
If you believe that your birth injury was caused by medical negligence, you may be eligible for compensation and should consider filing a medical malpractice claim.
At Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers, we seek to hold negligent medical professionals accountable. Your child’s birth injury can cause lifelong complications. You should not have to suffer financially for an error that never should have happened. For a FREE consultation on your case, contact us today. Call (312) 600-6000.