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Birth injuries affecting the head and brain

Many women who are in labor don't assume that there will be complications during the birth that might injure the baby. When those types of birth injuries do occur, parents often look to medical professionals for reassurance that their baby will lead a normal life despite the injuries. Sadly, some birth injuries lead to life-long complications that can mar the child's ability to lead a normal life. While serious birth injuries aren't as common as they were decades ago, Pennsylvania parents should be aware of their rights if their child is injured during birth.

Because the head is usually the first body part in the birth canal, birth injuries to the brain or head might occur. For some infants, an intracranial hemorrhage, or bleeding in the brain, occurs. In some cases, bleeding in the brain is caused by lack of oxygen during delivery. It can also be caused by skull bone deformities. Bleeding in the brain is very serious, in part because there aren't usually symptoms associated with it. Some infants might experience seizures, lethargy or poor feeding if they are suffering from this.

While they are uncommon, fractures of the skull can occur. These usually heal quickly unless the fracture is a depressed fracture. This type of fracture means that the area is indented.

Nerve injuries can sometimes occur during birth. The nerve can be damaged if forceps are used or if the baby is in an abnormal position during birth. Nerve issues usually resolve, but some that are more serious, such as spinal cord overstretching, can result in paralysis.

Perinatal asphyxia is a condition that results from the baby not getting enough blood prior to or during birth. When blood flow isn't adequate, the baby doesn't get enough oxygen. This can cause the baby to appear lifeless, have a slow heart rate, have seizures or have breathing troubles. A compressed umbilical cord, infection and deteriorated placenta are a few of the causes of perinatal asphyxia.

In each of these cases, the baby might need long-term care. For some Pennsylvania parents, seeking compensation for the injuries might be a way to minimize the financial impact of the injuries.

Source: Merck Manual, "Birth Injury" Sep. 11, 2014

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