Most expectant mothers will tell you that they only want one thing. They want a healthy baby born after a safe delivery. Sadly, labor and delivery remain very dangerous processes despite advances in modern medicine. Although countless issues can arise during birth, some birth injuries are more common for babies than others.
What kinds of birth injuries are the most likely to occur in the United States?
Injuries to the head or skull
A baby’s head is often under intense pressure during contractions, especially once the cervix fully dilates. It is common for babies to enter the world with swelling or bruising on their heads. In some cases, there could be internal bleeding under the baby’s cranial bones, especially if a doctor has used forceps.
Injuries to the eyes of a baby
Both the physical pressure of the delivery process and the assistive tools sometimes used during birth can cause injury to a child’s eyes. The most common birth injury to a newborn’s eyes will be burst blood vessels that will naturally heal. Occasionally, infants can suffer significant eye injuries caused by tools like forceps used during delivery.
Injuries to facial nerves
The pressure a baby experiences during delivery can do more than break blood vessels in their eyes. It can also cause damage to their facial nerves, which may resolve as the body naturally repairs the minor nerve damage over time.
Injuries to the nerves that support the arms and hands
Especially in scenarios where a delivery involves an unusual position or the need to rotate or pull a child during the delivery process, the baby could develop nerve injuries that affect their motor function and development in their arms and hands. Although typically nerve injuries are short-term, sometimes these injuries can have permanent consequences for the child.
The physical process of delivery or the force used by a doctor trying to assist the process could lead to broken bones. The most common broken bone reported in newborns due to delivery is the collarbone. Babies could also suffer fractures to other bones, like their arms, depending on what happens during delivery.
Other, more severe birth injuries, like cerebral palsy, are less common than minor injuries that will resolve in a few weeks. In some cases, birth injuries are a direct result of either negligence or improper intervention by medical professionals. Learning about birth injuries can help expectant families protect themselves during and after the labor and delivery process.