Birth injuries are unfortunate but relatively common occurrences, affecting about seven babies per 1000 live births. As many as three babies are born with a birth injury every hour in the US. While many birth injuries are minor and heal quickly, some can cause permanent damage. This leads many parents to wonder – are birth injuries preventable?

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What Causes Birth Injuries?

According to Jay Vaughn, an experienced birth injury lawyer in Fort Mitchell, there are several potential causes of birth injuries:

  • Labor and delivery complications – Issues like breech birth, use of forceps/vacuum, shoulder dystocia, very long labor, and more can increase risk.
  • Baby’s size – A very large or tiny baby may have difficulty fitting through the birth canal, raising risk. 
  • Preexisting conditions – Conditions like gestational diabetes or preeclampsia can make birth injuries more likely.
  • Provider errors – Mistakes by doctors or nurses, like improper use of instruments, may injure the baby; women aged 25-34 are at the highest risk of complications caused by assistive delivery tools like forceps.

The more complex the delivery, the higher the risks, especially for younger mothers, with women aged 15-17 in the highest risk category. But in many cases, birth injuries are unpredictable accidents.

Steps to Reduce Risks at Birth

While not all birth injuries can be prevented, specific steps can reduce risks:

  • Prenatal care – Regular visits allow doctors to catch issues early when interventions may help. Testing and ultrasound scans also help detect potential problems.
  • Managing conditions – Properly controlling diabetes and high blood pressure lowers risks.
  • Vaginal delivery when possible – C-sections have higher injury rates, so vaginal delivery is preferable if feasible.
  • Skilled medical team – Doctors and nurses experienced in childbirth can better handle complications. Delivering at a facility with a NICU also provides access to specialized care if needed.
  • Careful monitoring – Watching the baby’s heart rate and position can alert providers to signs of distress.

Though not guaranteed to prevent birth injuries, these steps can reduce the likelihood. But even with the best medical care, birth is unpredictable. Some accidents will still occur.

Coping with Birth Injuries  

If a birth injury does happen, excellent aftercare can minimize long-term effects. Physical and occupational therapy, assistive devices, and even surgery may help the child adapt and recover function.

Most importantly, surround the child with support and encouragement. With family at their side, children with birth injuries can still lead happy, fulfilling lives. Though challenging, birth injuries don’t have to define a child’s future.

Speak to a Birth Injury Lawyer

If your child has suffered a severe birth injury, consulting a birth injury attorney may be beneficial. An attorney can help you understand your legal options and determine if you have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. This may help secure compensation to pay for your child’s ongoing medical care and other needs related to their injury. An experienced birth injury lawyer can guide you through the complex legal process, deal with insurance companies, and fight for your child to receive justice. The average medical malpractice payout for a child under one month is over $1 million. 

While not every birth injury is avoidable, proper prenatal care and an experienced delivery team can reduce risks. But even if an injury occurs, many options exist to help children recover and thrive.