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When a woman is delivering a baby, she and her unborn child are in a very vulnerable condition. Any mistake, however small, can lead to a life-or-death situation. Luckily, there are modern medical equipment, as well as experienced doctors and highly trained medical workers who aid women and their babies. Still, there are lapses or inaccuracies when providing medical assistance that can lead to grave injuries, or worse, death.

What Are Birth Injuries?

Birth injuries, also known as “birth trauma”, occur because of complications during labor and delivery. There are several factors that put a fetus at risk for injury. A baby’s size, for instance, does matter a great deal. To illustrate, a fetus that is too small is more prone to injury and is more likely to experience physical difficulties than one who is of the right gestational age and weight during delivery. There are also more dangers to a woman and her baby if the fetus is too large for its age, which is also known as macrosomia. A number of birth injuries might also result from: cephalopelvic disproportion, wherein the mother’s pelvis is too small for vaginal delivery; dystocia or prolonged labor; as well as malposition or malpresentation of a fetus, such as breech or transverse lie. Proper prenatal care can greatly help in identifying possible problems during delivery.

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Birth Injuries Due to Negligence

There are times when birth trauma occurs because a doctor or any member of the health care team was careless. In such cases, a victim can sue the negligent party in order to make the individual or team answerable. Birth injuries can occur at any time during pregnancy and labor, and also after pregnancy. Some common issues linked to clinical negligence include the following:

1. Wrongful Birth

When does it become a “wrongful birth”? The issue about wrongful birth is actually pretty complicated; but basically, this is about a mother’s right to go through or to terminate a certain pregnancy. A woman can choose to end her pregnancy if she finds out that her unborn child has an abnormal condition. Such conditions include, but are not limited to, spina bifida, heart problems or Down’s syndrome. In case her doctor fails to diagnose the fetus’ defect and the woman gives birth to an abnormal baby, she has the right to sue her doctor for wrongful birth. In cases like these, a doctor’s failure to identify the fetal problem early on can be due to several factors, such as the OB-Gyne’s limited experience or maybe because of faulty diagnostic equipment.

2. Cerebral Palsy

An otherwise healthy fetus can become afflicted with cerebral palsy during labor or delivery. Cerebral palsy, which is mainly due to brain abnormalities, occurs when the fetus is not able to get enough oxygen. This is why it’s very important for doctors and nurses to closely monitor the fetal vital signs.

3. Injury due to Forceps Delivery

The delivery of a baby is difficult, and sometimes, a mother needs a hand. This is when the use of certain equipment, like forceps or a suction machine (also known as ventouse), becomes required. However, using such devices incorrectly or choosing the wrong equipment can have grave consequences. There are times when a baby sustains facial or head injuries, while a mother suffers from serious vaginal lacerations.

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Written by Claire Waltham. Claire Waltham is a freelancer who has written many law-related articles. She also blogs about law firms and websites that specialize in personal injury law, like .


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