Birth Trauma – When a Newborn is Injured During Birth

“Birth trauma” can refer to an injury that a baby sustains during birth. The phrase also relates to the situation when a mother, during the birthing process, believes that her life or her baby’s life is in danger. As a leading personal injury and medical malpractice firm in Washington State, our office would like to present a two-part analysis on the topic of birth trauma.

Part I, below, looks at birth trauma in relation to the newborn. Part II will focus on the topic as it pertains to the baby’s mother.

“Birth Trauma” Involving the Newborn

Birth trauma can refer to an injury that a newborn suffers during birth. Simple examples include cuts and fractures. Trauma often results from:

  • The poor use of an instrument by a doctor or nurse, or
  • The improper handling of a baby by the same or other medical staff.

While birth traumas are not highly common in the United States, they still occur in about 2% of live births.

Causes of Birth Traumas

Most traumas take place in cases where a newborn’s size is too large for a mother’s pelvic area. Deliveries, under these circumstances, mean doctors have to use their hands or forceps to help guide the baby through the birth canal. This can lead to injury if the medical professional uses too much force or is not careful with any tools used.

More specific conditions that can cause birth traumas include:

  • Newborns that weigh more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces
  • A mother’s pelvis having an irregular size or shape
  • A difficult labor or delivery
  • Prolonged labor
  • A Baby’s abnormal fetal position at birth

Common Birth Traumas

The majority of babies in the U.S. are born in a head-first position. This means that the most common birth traumas will affect the upper area of the newborn, like the head, neck, and shoulder regions. Specific traumas that babies can suffer are:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Closed Head Injury
  • Brain Stem Injuries
  • Anoxia and Hypoxia
  • Infections
  • Stillbirths
  • Fractures
  • Seizures
  • Spinal Cord Trauma
  • Prenatal Asphyxia
  • Intracranial Hemorrhage

Traumas Due to Medical Negligence

Washington’s medical negligence laws say that parents can hold health care professionals liable for birth traumas. This is provided the professionals provided care that was not reasonable or appropriate under the circumstances. Examples of this are:

  • A doctor’s failure to detect an umbilical cord wrapped around an infant’s neck
  • A professional’s failure to quickly perform an emergency C-section
  • A physician’s failure to detect negative fetal vital signs

Please note that while parents may be able to bring a legal action for birth traumas, they will need the help of an experienced personal injury and medical malpractice attorney. That is where we come in. The attorneys at Otorowski Morrow and Golden, PLLC have over 120 combined years in representing injured parties. They are skilled and experienced in handling birth trauma cases and they provide unmatched services. If your child was injured during birth, please contact them now.