When a woman is giving birth, there are many things that could potentially go wrong. While many health care professionals do what they can to ensure the safety and health of both mother and child, there are instances where a birth injury may occur.

In general, birth trauma can occur during the actual birthing process due to the different mechanical forces involved, including compression and traction. On average, there are approximately six to eight injuries per 1,000 live births with approximately half of those being avoidable. In most cases, certain risk factors may lead to a birth injury. These include a vaginal breech delivery, infants who weight at least 4,500 grams and deliveries where forceps or vacuums are used.

Birth injuries rarely result in a child's death. However, the long-term prognosis for an injury depends on the type of injury that was suffered. For example, if the child suffered a soft tissue injury, such as an abrasion or a laceration, the prognosis is generally favorable. Certain nerve injuries, including facial palsy and radial nerve palsy also have favorable prognoses. If the injury is more severe, the child could potentially have a permanent disability, including permanent paralysis or weakness.

While some birth and pregnancy injuries that occur are not avoidable, others can be prevented with proper precaution on the part of the medial professionals involved. If the doctors or other hospital staff fail to notice that the infant is in distress just prior to or during the birth and an injury occurs, the parents of the child may have the grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the staff and the hospital where the birth injury occurred. In most cases, the parents seek compensation for the cost of the treatment of the injury and for the cost of a rehabilitation program should the injury be severe or permanent.

Source: Medscape, "Birth Trauma", December 30, 2014


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