How Often Does Birth Trauma Occur in America?
About 4 million babies are born each year in the U.S., according to data from the CDC, and most of those births occur without causing harm to the newborn babies. In fact, in the U.S., childbirth is considered a fairly commonplace event medically speaking, with most mothers and babies returning home after just a 48-hour hospital stay.
But the fact is, while the majority of births are uncomplicated, birth trauma does occur in the U.S. and the consequences can be devastating. In fact, according to data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), birth trauma occurs in about 1.6 of every 1,000 births in the U.S. Considering there are 4.3 million live births each year, that adds up to almost 7,000 newborns injured each year during the birth process. What makes this statistic even more heartbreaking is that the same AHRQ report found most of these injuries could have been avoided.
The problem with statistics is that while they can be helpful in understanding the scope of a problem, for families who experience the pain and heartbreak of a birth injury, their own “prevalence rate” is 100% — and suddenly, government statistics become utterly meaningless.
Types and Causes of Birth Trauma
Several factors can cause injuries during delivery, including the use of forceps or suction to move the baby through the birth canal.
Some of the most common injuries include but are not limited to:
- spinal cord injury (and related deaths), which often occurs as a result of the use of too much traction or rotation during delivery
- cerebral palsy or other brain damage that occurs as a result of direct trauma or lack of oxygen to the brain
- shoulder nerve injury (brachial plexus palsy or erb’s palsy), especially in the shoulder area, which can result in permanent damage to the muscles of the arm and hand
- damage to the facial nerves, resulting in facial paralysis
- injury to the diaphragm which can lead to breathing problems and even death
- injury to the nerves around the voicebox (larynx) that may require a tracheotomy
- fractures, especially of the collarbone (clavicle) or upper arm bone (humerus)
We Can Help
Not all birth injuries can be avoided, and some injuries may be due to problems that develop while the baby is still in utero. Doctors and the entire delivery team have a duty to be reasonably careful during the labor and delivery of a newborn baby, and failure to adhere to this level of care at the first sign of a complication may cause them to be held responsible for negligence. Having a skilled birth trauma lawyer is essential for determining the cause of your child’s injuries and whether medical negligence played a role.
At the Mellino Law Firm, we work closely with families to help them understand and protect their rights so they can get the compensation they — and their babies — deserve. We know no amount of compensation can make up for the damage and pain caused by birth trauma, but it can help pay for future medical costs or other needs your child may have. It also holds the medical provider accountable for their actions and in some cases, that could even help prevent future injuries.
If you’d like to learn more about birth trauma and how we can help you protect your rights, call the Mellino Law Firm at (440) 276-3535 or use our online contact form to request a free consultation today.