Birth trauma (i.e., injuries to an infant due to mechanical forces such as compression or traction) is a major source of emotional pain for parents and a major source of life-long disabilities for many of those born suffering from birth trauma.
Almost one-half of birth trauma is potentially avoidable when the obstetrical risk factors are recognized and anticipated: the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (“AHRQ”), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, confirms on its website that “Many of these injuries to neonates may be preventable.”
The AHRQ reports that:
– Birth trauma-neonatal injury rates fell from 2.6 per 1,000 live births in 2004 to 1.9 per 1,000 live births in 2012;
– Between 2004 and 2012, birth trauma-neonatal injury rates fell for all racial/ethnic groups (but the decrease for Asians and Pacific Islanders was not statistically significant);
– In 2012, white neonates experienced an injury rate of 2.09 per 1,000 live births compared with 1.56 per 1,000 live births for Hispanic neonates.
The AHRQ lists the following cases included in its statistics regarding birth trauma:
– Hemorrhage below the scalp;
– Cerebral hemorrhage at birth;
– Spinal cord injury at birth;
– Facial nerve injury at birth;
– Bone injury not elsewhere classified at birth;
– Nerve injury not elsewhere classified at birth;
– Birth trauma not elsewhere classified.
The risk factors for birth trauma include vaginal breech delivery, abnormal or excessive traction used during delivery, delivery using instruments (especially forceps or vacuum), and infants who are large for date (especially infants who weigh in excess of 4,500 grams).
The most common birth trauma injuries include brachial plexus injuries, such as Erb’s palsy, subdural hematoma, intracranial hematoma, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries due to oxygen deprivation, and paralysis.
Where a birth takes place can make a difference in whether a birth trauma injury may occur – births that occur in rural areas are 33 times more likely to result in a birth injury than births that occur in urban areas.
Birth injuries occur more often in male babies than in female babies. In general, larger infants are more susceptible to suffering birth trauma, with higher rates reported for infants who weigh in excess of 4,500 grams.
Occasionally, birth trauma can occur due to resuscitation efforts.
Sometimes it is not apparent to parents whose child suffered birth trauma if the injuries sustained to their child were due to medical negligence. Children who suffer birth trauma resulting in permanent injuries, and their parents who also suffer as a result, may be entitled to substantial compensation for both economic losses (such as past and future medical bills and loss of future earnings) and noneconomic damages (such as pain, suffering, mental anguish, and disfigurement), if the birth trauma and resulting injuries are due to medical negligence (i.e., medical care that fell below the applicable standard of care).
If you or a loved one suffered birth trauma in the United States, you should promptly find a birth trauma lawyer in your state who may investigate your birth trauma claim for you and represent you in a birth trauma case, if appropriate.
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