Is Birth Injury Preventable? Management & Prevention of Birth Injuries in Kansas City

The arrival of a new baby is often a wonderful event in the parents’ life. But often, they find their child has suffered a preventable severe birth injury due to medical malpractice. Without proper care, the child can end up with lifelong disabilities.

Early detection of potential issues during pregnancy is crucial in reducing the likelihood of a birth injury, like brachial plexus birth palsy. Medical professionals with an in-depth knowledge of related risks play an essential role in preventing serious birth injuries.

Doctor Negligence and Medical Malpractice

Doctor negligence and medical malpractices play a significant role in many birth injuries. For example, excessive force during delivery, improper use of instruments, or failure to diagnose and treat complications contribute to birth injuries.

Establishing a medical malpractice case from a birth injury requires evidence. Linking the medical professional to the birth injury is essential. Consider seeking legal help in case of a birth injury due to doctor negligence or medical malpractice. A birth injury lawyer can pursue compensation for damages.

Birth Defects vs. Birth Injuries

Understanding the difference between birth defects and birth injuries is crucial. It aids personal injury litigation related to pregnancy and childbirth. 

Birth Defects

Birth defects, also called congenital disabilities, are anomalies or physical variations in newborns. They happen due to genetic or environmental factors during pregnancy. These can range from minor cosmetic differences to major health conditions. For example, a cleft lip and palate are cosmetic, but spina bifida or Down syndrome are health issues. 

Some defects can be prevented or treated with early diagnosis and medical intervention. Adequate folic acid levels also help reduce the chances of defects. Expectant mothers should receive regular prenatal care to mitigate health issues during delivery. Other problems may need lifelong care. 

Birth Injuries

Birth injuries are health conditions that arise during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. These injuries, unlike defects, are not caused by genetics. For instance, cerebral palsy can result from medical neglect during delivery.

Birth injuries can incur legal action from the parents, while defects can’t. Doctors can be held accountable for any malpractices that cause damage.

What Is a Birth Injury?

The term birth injury refers to any physical harm the baby suffers during delivery. A serious injury can occur before, during, or shortly after birth. Some injuries include cerebral palsy, fractures, and cephalohematoma.

Apart from the birth defect distinction, injuries are split into three main categories. There are nerve injuries, orthopedic injuries, and brain damage. They happen due to unexpected situations or negligence from medical professionals during the birthing process. 

Risk factors for a birth injury include having a baby above 8 pounds, prolonged or difficult labor, premature birth, birth canal shape, fetal distress, and weak immune systems. While some injuries are minor and heal with time, others can lead to severe and lifelong complications.

Another condition that can cause severe birth trauma is a prolapsed umbilical cord. It can lead to birth asphyxia due to oxygen deprivation and cause serious complications during birth. It’s a life-threatening emergency requiring immediate medical attention. Birth assisting tools and an experienced medical team are needed to help the labor and delivery process when this happens.

How to Identify a Child’s Birth Injury

Paying close attention to your child is essential if you suspect your baby may have suffered a birth injury. A closer inspection will provide enough information to gauge if additional care is required. Here are some common symptoms to look out for:

Poor Arm Movement

Limited arm movement in a newborn can signify a preventable birth injury. It’s caused by excessive pulling, stretching, or violent movement of the baby’s arms during delivery, leading to birth trauma. This can result in nerve damage, affecting the ability to move the arms. Early diagnosis and immediate treatment can greatly aid in recovery.

Shoulder Dystocia

Shoulder dystocia happens when the baby’s shoulders become lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bone. When a doctor pulls with excessive force during delivery, the baby may experience damage to their tendons, ligaments, or nerves. This can cause further harm to both the mother and baby, often unnecessarily.

To prevent these injuries to the baby’s arms or shoulders, an emergency c-section can be necessary. Alternatively, using proper birthing techniques and tools can help prevent birth injuries.

Erb’s Palsy

If your newborn displays limited arm movement, the baby may be suffering from Erb’s Palsy. This condition affects about 1 to 2 in every 1,000 newborns. It occurs when the brachial plexus, a group of nerves in the shoulder, is damaged during delivery due to a traumatic force. Erb’s Palsy is preventable if the medical professionals detect it early and routinely check if the nerves are recovering.

Eating Difficulties

If your newborn experiences difficulty eating, chewing, sucking, or swallowing, it may be a sign of a birth injury that has affected their brain development. Facial palsy, for instance, occurs when babies suffer facial nerve damage from poor brain development.

If you don’t see improvements in your child’s feeding issues, it might be due to negligent mistakes by doctors. If you suspect neglect from doctors, seek the advice of an experienced birth injury attorney.

Unresponsiveness to People and Sound

Infants’ lack of response to sound can mean an injury issue. This can be identified by the baby’s failure to make sounds or react to their name being called. It potentially signals damage to their auditory system during birth.

Expert medical attention is crucial to ensure optimal recovery of infants from hearing loss. Birth injuries are preventable, and seeking the advice of a healthcare professional should be a priority.

There are other reasons for unresponsiveness to sound in infants, however. Issues like hearing loss or developmental delays aren’t always directly linked to birth injuries. If you need clarification on the cause, contact your medical professionals for more information.

Smaller Head

Microcephaly is a condition that causes the baby’s head to be smaller than what is typical for their age and gender. This rare condition results from birth injuries. It happens when birth asphyxia or a fetal stroke happens during or after birth. The condition leads to abnormal brain development due to brain damage.

Treatment for microcephaly from a birth injury includes several options. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, medications, surgery, or specialized education improve recovery. Additionally, developmental disabilities can be mitigated with an individualized treatment plan.

Types of Brain Damage That Cause Preventable Birth Injuries

Some birth injuries are the result of damage to the unborn child’s developing brain. Knowing the symptoms and how they affect the child’s health is essential to treat them.

Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)

Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is the most common preventable brain damage. It happens when the baby’s brain does not receive enough oxygen or blood flow. 

Damage from a birth injury can cause conditions like cerebral palsy or periventricular leukomalacia. The conditions’ severity depends on how long the baby’s brain was deprived of oxygen.

Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL)

Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is another type of brain injury. It happens when the brain’s white matter is damaged due to a lack of blood flow and affects the nerve cells that control movement. 

PVL leads to symptoms like tight muscles, vision problems, and developmental delays due to nerve damage. Risk factors for PVL include HIE, infection, brain bleeds, low birth weight, preterm labor, and hydrocephalus.


Hydrocephalus is a rare condition where fluid builds up in the brain, causing an increase in head size. Without treatment, it can lead to severe complications like epilepsy, learning disabilities, and vision problems.

Intraventricular Hemorrhage (IVH)

Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) is a type of bleeding that occurs in the brain’s hollow spaces that contain cerebrospinal fluid.

IVH is most common in premature babies and can be caused by physical stress. It leads to pressure on nerve cells and possible brain injury. Additionally, the smaller and more premature the baby, the higher the risk for IVH.

Newborn Cephalohematoma

Newborn cephalohematoma is a birth injury that occurs during a difficult vaginal birth. It causes blood to pool under the baby’s skull and be visible as bumps or bulges on the back of the head. 

It’s often harmless and will heal on its own. However, in severe cases, if untreated, it can cause brain damage or infection due to excess pressure on brain tissue.

Birth Injury Prevention and Minimizing Risks

Preventing a premature birth is critical to reducing the risk of many birth injuries. It’s also essential for maintaining both the mother and baby’s health and well-being.

Some ways to minimize the risks include regular prenatal care and avoiding risk factors. These factors include smoking, alcohol, the mother’s high blood pressure, and certain prescription medications. Monitoring the mother’s maternal conditions with ongoing disease control during pregnancy can aid in spotting problems early.

Taking Action Against Largely Preventable Medical Malpractice

Negligence by medical professionals during childbirth can lead to several preventable birth injuries. They cause issues for the child and financial burdens with excessive medical expenses for the parents.

If you suspect medical negligence has affected your child, seek advice from a medical malpractice attorney. Additionally, keeping your child’s medical records can strengthen a birth injury medical malpractice case. 

Partnering with a birth injury attorney can aid families in seeking justice and compensation to help their child recover and live life to the fullest. Contact Wendt Law Firm P.C. today at 816-542-6734 and schedule a free case review with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.


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