The most common injuries that result from a delayed birth include bruising, fractures, cerebral palsy, brain damage, and forms of autism. The severity of these injuries varies, depending on the circumstances surrounding the birth. However, any injury to a child during childbirth can have long-term or permanent ramifications.
In most births, labor lasts no more than 12 to 14 hours for women who have given birth before. For first-time mothers, labor is generally considered prolonged after 20 hours. Some births can take substantially longer, however. During the course of this labor, babies face significant compression while within the birth canal. Over time, this compression can cause physical trauma, deprive the baby of oxygen, or damage the nervous system, among other repercussions.
In many cases, babies will heal from birth injuries on their own in a matter of days. More severe conditions can be life-altering, however. Understanding what are the most injuries that occur with a delayed birth and how to treat them is valuable to any parent facing these challenging circumstances.
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Bruising and Fractures
The most common—and least severe—forms of injury a child might experience during a delayed birth are bruising or contusions. Often, the pressure of a child remaining in the vaginal canal for long periods of time can bruise or damage the skin. Less frequently, this pressure can result in bone fractures. The most common form of fracture under these circumstances involves the child’s clavicle. Although these injuries often heal, they can result in birthmarks, scarring, or deformities.
The pressure from the birth canal is not the only way a delayed birth can lead to wounds or fractures. Doctors involved in the delivery often resort to using forceps to remove the baby when labor stalls. The use of forceps can cause a variety of injuries, including lacerations and broken bones.
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Cerebral palsy is a common condition that impacts countless Americans. In fact, it is the most common motor disability in childhood according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medical professionals classify cerebral palsy in multiple ways, and each of these conditions has varying causes. Delayed birth is one of those causes.
Cerebral palsy is a form of movement disorder that typically appears during childhood. It can take many forms, but typically involves uncontrolled movement in the body. Other symptoms include muscle weakness, tremors, and poor coordination. Although this condition often involves uncontrolled spasms, it can also involve a lack of voluntary movement in parts of the body. Children who have cerebral palsy often struggle with balance, reflexes, and motor function. Cerebral palsy stems from damage to the brain. It can occur during delayed birth due to physical damage or the lack of oxygen, among other causes.
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When it comes to injuries resulting from a delayed birth, brain damage is arguably the most severe. This is a broad category of injury that can result from multiple factors. First among those factors is oxygen deprivation. One of the primary risks that come with delayed birth is the potential for compression from the birth canal to cut off a baby’s oxygen. This condition, known as asphyxia, is more likely in cases where the baby enters the birth canal feet first. This position increases the risk of the collapse or compression of the umbilical cord. The longer the baby is without oxygen, the higher the risk of brain damage.
Long labors and delayed births can also lead to medical errors that result in brain damage. As labor progresses, some doctors feel pressure to speed up the process using delivery devices like vacuum extractors or forceps. These devices can be dangerous, and a mistake can cause an injury directly to the baby’s brain. In severe cases, the devices could damage or even penetrate the brain. The potential for permanent brain injuries is significant under these circumstances.
Brain damage can lead to a host of serious health complications that follow the baby for their entire life. These include cognitive and intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, poor motor function, paralysis, and seizures.
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Autism might not come immediately to mind when you consider the most common injuries that occur with a delayed birth. The cause of autism has been a controversial topic for some time, and many scientists point to genetic issues as the primary cause. However, a study by the Neurology Research Network suggests a link between autism and delayed birth. According to the study, more than 80 percent of children diagnosed with a form of autism were exposed to labor and delivery drugs like Pitocin at birth. These drugs are used more frequently during stalled or delayed births.
Autism is a neurobehavioral condition that researchers and medical professionals do not fully understand. The standards for diagnosing autism have changed over time, given that the condition has a large number of potential symptoms. These symptoms include impaired social interaction and development, repetitive behaviors, and challenges with communication.
You May Be Entitled to Compensation if a Medical Error Led to Your Child’s Birth Injury
Dealing with a traumatic and unexpected birth injury can be difficult for any parent, especially if they occur due to medical errors.
If your child suffered an injury as a result of a delayed birth cause by the negligence of medical professionals, the Birth Injury Lawyers Group can help you hold them accountable and determine if you are entitled to compensation.
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