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What is a birth injury and what causes it?

For parents in Maryland and throughout the country, the birth of a child is one of the most significant and memorable moments a person can have in life. It is also one of the most delicate situations for a mother and her infant. Parents, together with their chosen hospital and medical practitioner, should work hand in hand to make sure that a child is delivered properly and safely. Otherwise, a birth injury can occur and compromise the health of a child.

What is a birth injury? A birth injury, also called birth trauma, is a physical injury sustained by an infant during the delivery process. Birth injuries can seriously affect not just the physical stature of the infant, but the child's mental and emotional development as well.

What can cause a birth injury? Overweight babies are prone to a birth injury. Being premature can be a cause since premature babies are very fragile. Prolonged labor and abnormal birthing positions, like a "breech" delivery can also cause an injury. Another cause is dystocia.

What are the common birth injuries? Minor injuries include bruising from the forceps, swelling of the baby's scalp, and small blood vessel breaks in an infant's eyes. While these birth injuries may sound distressing, they are only physical injuries and can disappear in a few days and do not normally cause serious damage. On the other hand, facial paralysis due to forceps and other delivery errors are serious. The same can be said about Erb's Palsy and Brachial Palsy, which can leave a child unable to effectively move a shoulder, arm or hand due to damaged nerve tissues. Fractures are also common during birth.

What can Maryland parents do in case their child suffers a birth injury? Parents can file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a hospital or doctor. Birth injuries are sometimes caused by negligence, and a lawsuit can result in much needed compensation for a child's rehabilitative treatment.

Source: Urmc.rochester.edu, "Birth Injury," accessed on Aug.7, 2014

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