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Childbirth Injuries

Complications in the process of labor and delivery can result in a wide variety of problems for a newborn baby. These problems, known collectively as childbirth injuries, can be mild or severe.

One major cause is oxygen deprivation, typically known as hypoxia, which commonly occurs when the umbilical cord is compressed or twisted in the birth process. The other main cause is mechanical trauma, which may occur when the baby assumes an unusual position at the time of birth (buttocks rather than head first, for example) or when the baby is too large to pass through the birth canal easily.  

Numerous birth injuries are caused by mistakes made by doctors or hospitals during delivery. Birth injuries can occur if excessive force is applied in the delivery of a child or there is a delay in performing a necessary C-section delivery. Birth injuries can also occur if the delivery team fails to properly anticipate the size of a child, causing a turbulent delivery.

The most serious birth injuries are those that affect the brain. They are caused by oxygen deprivation or bleeding within the skull or brain. These injuries vary greatly in severity. They may lead to long-term seizure disorders or cause cerebral palsy or mental retardation.  Some injuries can be so severe that the child must exist on a ventilator for life.

Explanations of the most common severe birth injuries:

Cerebral Palsy is caused by brain damage before, during or shortly following birth. Cerebral Palsy affects a person's body movements and muscle coordination. There are three types of Cerebral Palsy, including Spastic, which results in difficult and stiff movements; Ataxic, which causes loss of depth perception and sense of balance; and Athetoid, which causes uncontrolled and involuntary movements.

While in every labor, there is some degree of "stress" to the fetus, it is fetal "distress" that doctors and nurses must quickly diagnose and quickly alleviate. Lack of oxygen to the brain can cause fetal distress, which can be detected by correctly interpreting the fetal monitor strip. If the fetal distress is not diagnosed or treated soon enough, a child may be born with Cerebral Palsy or another kind of birth injury.

Brachial Plexus Palsy: The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that control the muscles of the shoulder, arm, elbow, wrist, hand and fingers. Injury to nerves of the brachial plexus can result in full to partial paralysis of one or both arms (bilateral brachial plexus injury). Possible symptoms of a brachial plexus injury include: a limp or paralyzed arm; lack of muscle control in the arm or hand.

Erb's Palsy is an upper plexus nerve injury. The nerves that are damaged control muscles in the shoulder, arm, or hand. The bigger the baby, the higher the risks for Erb's Palsy type injuries. Any or all of these muscles may be paralyzed. Your child's disability depends on which nerves are injured and how severely they have been damaged. Children with Brachial Plexus injuries are affected in different ways. Some children have no muscle control and no feeling in the arm or hand. Some children can move their arms, but have little control over the wrist and hand. Other children can use their hands well but cannot use the shoulder or elbow muscles.

The Neighbors Law Firm uses a Special Needs Educator consultant to spot special educational needs a child may require as a result of these types of injuries.

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