One in 664 babies delivered by way of forceps suffers from a brain injury and one in 860 infants experiences a brain injury after delivery by way of vacuum extraction. Forceps have been defined as “a set of metal tong-like structures used to help pull a baby out of the vagina once the baby has descended enough.” A vacuum extractor (ventouse) is “a device to assist delivery consisting of a metal traction cup that is attached to the fetus’ head; negative pressure is applied and traction is made on a chain passed through the suction tube.”
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These tools can be helpful during difficult labors when a baby is breeched, stuck in the birth canal or if the labor is taking too long. While forceps and vacuum extractors are generally deemed safe, doctors can use these tools in a negligent manner, and when this happens, significant damage can result.