What is a birth injury?
Generally speaking, a birth injury is any physical damage suffered by a child or its mother during labor or delivery. The vast majority of birth injuries are suffered by the child. Birth injuries can be very mild, involving nothing more than mild bruises. Other birth injuries can be extremely serious. Depending on the complications suffered by the mother or child during labor and delivery, a baby could be left without the use of his/her arm, partially paralyzed or with cerebral palsy. Some birth injuries are so severe that they require life-long medical attention and treatment; others can be fixed with surgery or physical therapy.
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What causes a birth injury?
According to the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), facial paralysis is caused by nerve damage in the infant’s face just before delivery. The facial nerve, also known as the seventh cranial nerve, can be damaged in a variety of ways. For instance, a large baby is more likely to suffer from facial paralysis than a smaller baby. Larger babies may experience greater pressure in the birth canal. This pressure may result in nerve damage and facial paralysis. Prolonged labor and delivery can also increase the chance of birth injury. Birth trauma may be caused by the use of an epidural anesthesia. Also, medication used to induce labor may increase the likelihood of the child or mother suffering a birth injury.
If a doctor administers medication to create stronger contractions, the baby’s nerves may become damaged. These situations do not necessitate birth trauma, but they tend to be associated with birth injuries. Sometimes, medical negligence is responsible for a birth injury. For instance, if a doctor uses a vacuum extractor or pair of forceps incorrectly, the child’s facial nerves may become damaged, resulting in facial paralysis. Sometimes, babies cannot be delivered safely without assistance. In situations like this, doctors may decide to perform an emergency caesarean section. If a caesarean section is necessary but the doctor carelessly fails to diagnose the problem soon enough, the baby may suffer an unnecessary birth injury.