Understanding Birth Injury Causes
There are numerous types of birth injury causes, not all of which occur during childbirth. Some birth injuries are caused by a maternal infection that goes undiagnosed and untreated. Others include a delayed birth and oxygen deprivation before or during childbirth. Let’s take a moment to explore some of the most common birth injury causes and how they may result in temporary or permanent health problems, disabilities, and/or disfigurements.
Prolapsed or Kinked Umbilical Cord
A prolapsed or kinked umbilical cord can occur just prior to or in the midst of childbirth. If this occurs, the umbilical cord will drop into the vagina through the cervix before the baby. When this happens, a section of the umbilical cord can become pinched or trapped against the baby, causing it to collapse, causing loss of oxygen to the baby.
An umbilical cord prolapse can be detected, though, through the use of a fetal heart monitor. A prolapsed umbilical cord will result in a drop in heart rate, which will indicate a problem that the doctor should be able to quickly identify and solve by calling for a cesarean section or moving the fetus to free the umbilical cord.
If the doctor does not diagnose the problem quickly, it can result in brain damage, and may cause a number of problems, including the development of cerebral palsy.
Oxygen Deprivation Due to Other Issues
It’s worthwhile to note, though, that a prolapsed or kinked umbilical cord is not the only potential cause of oxygen deprivation before or during labor. If a baby’s shoulders are too wide to fit into the birth canal and pass beyond the pelvic bone, shoulder dystocia can occur, in which case the baby’s head may pass through the vagina but the shoulders will remain trapped within the mother’s body. This can lead to oxygen deprivation, as well as other problems.
If a baby is premature, it may also have underdeveloped lungs, and this may cause oxygen deprivation during and after childbirth. If this is the case, the baby should be kept in NICU until they can breathe on their own to avoid brain damage and other problems.
Note that whatever the cause, oxygen deprivation is recognized as the leading cause of birth injuries that affect the brain and lead to conditions such as cerebral palsy.
A Long and Difficult Labor
When babies are born, their skulls are still soft and are intended to take a certain amount of pressure as they pass through the birth canal. That said, though, if labor continues for 18 hours or more, brain damage can occur due to prolonged pressure on the brain. If a labor lasts too long and the doctor does not call for a cesarean section procedure in time, brain damage can occur, which can lead to cerebral palsy, learning disorders, and other lifelong conditions.
A long labor can also result in nerve damage to the brachial plexus. If the labor is too difficult, and the baby cannot safely pass through the birth canal without pulling on one or both shoulders, creating a brachial stretch injury, then the doctor should call for a cesarean section to free the baby and prevent injury to the mother, as well.
Misuse of Medical Tools and Other Medical Malpractice
Brain trauma and other physical injuries may also occur if certain birth-assisting tools are misused, such as forceps or vacuums. Doctors may also be responsible for birth injury causes if they do not identify and treat maternal infections prior to childbirth. Malpractice of this kind can lead to brain damage and other birth injuries, which can result in temporary or permanent damage to the baby.
If you believe that your baby has suffered a birth injury, you should be aware of the most common causes and how a medical professional may prevent them. In many cases, birth injury causes are due to medical malpractice that leads to oxygen deprivation or a prolonged labor, which hurts the baby. Many of these injuries may be treated if they’re caught early, but some are difficult to detect at first, and some are permanent.
At Birth Injury Center, we’re here for you to help you understand your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.