As birth injury lawyers in Tulsa, OK from a firm like Royce Injury Attorneys LLC can explain, birth injuries are fortunately not very common at all. In 2012, there were only 1.9 birth injuries for every 1,000 live births in the United States, and that was a decline from 2.6 in 2004. More good news is that when birth injuries do occur, they are usually fairly mild and often resolve on their own. However, serious birth injuries do occur and can cause complications that last a lifetime. If certain risk factors are present, birth injuries are more likely to occur.
Presentation refers to the position that a newborn is in when he or she emerges from the birth canal. It is normal for the baby to present headfirst with the face toward the mother’s spine. However, sometimes there is a breech presentation in which the feet or buttocks come out first, or the baby is “sunny side up” with the face turned forward and the baby’s and mother’s spines running up against one another.
A baby who has not had enough time to develop in the womb is more susceptible to injury because his or her body is more fragile. Babies who are born prior to 37 weeks’ gestation are considered to be premature.
The process of childbirth can take a long time, especially if it is the first time. However, sometimes labor takes too long without progressing, and this is when birth injuries can occur. Labor is considered prolonged if it takes more than 14 hours in a woman who has given birth before. If this is the first time giving birth, labor is not considered prolonged until it has lasted at least 20 hours. A doctor may recommend a cesarean section to avoid complications from prolonged labor.
Dystocia is a medical term for difficult childbirth. In addition to the risk factors already described, dystocia can occur for a number of reasons:
- The infant is too large
- The infant’s shoulder gets stuck under the mother’s pelvis
- The umbilical cord gets wrapped around the baby’s neck
- The cervix may dilate too slowly
Whatever the cause, dystocia can cause fetal distress, which affects the baby’s cardiovascular function, or neonatal asphyxia, which occurs when the baby does not get enough oxygen. Complications such as these may result in serious birth injuries.
Generally speaking, childbirth is much safer now than it was in the past. Though birth injuries are rare, they can still be devastating when they do occur. A birth injury attorney may be able to seek justice on your baby’s behalf.