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Birth injury causes and effects vary greatly

Birth injuries can range from very minor to life-threatening. For minor injuries, there is a good chance that the baby won't be affected all of its life and that the parents won't have to deal with many consequences of the injury once the child leaves the hospital.

Some examples of very minor birth injuries include slight bruising that is common during delivery. This is sometimes the case if forceps or a vacuum have to be used to deliver the infant. This bruising will usually go away within a few days or weeks after delivery.

More serious injuries can affect the baby in the immediate future, and also for the rest of the child's life. These conditions run the gamut from a brachial plexus injury that has only temporary effects to brain bleeds that can cause long-term brain damage.

Some birth injuries are preventable. One example of this is when a baby's heart rate is out of the normal range. In this case, a surgical birth might be appropriate. If a surgical delivery is appropriate and the doctor doesn't take that action, the baby might suffer from an injury that might have been prevented if the surgical delivery was initiated.

Perinatal asphyxia is one of the conditions that can be caused by failure to do a surgical delivery when it is indicated. It can also be caused by placenta issues or problems with the umbilical cord. This condition can cause problems with almost every system, including the nervous, circulatory and digestive, because of the lack of oxygen and blood flow to the baby.

When a baby suffers a birth injury that leads to permanent disability, or even a condition that requires additional care, the parents might decide to seek compensation for their baby's injuries. The goal of seeking compensation is to get the funds that will allow the parents to care for their baby and provide him or her with vital medical care.

Source: Merck Manuals, "Birth Injury," Arthur E. Kopelman, MD, accessed Oct. 19, 2016

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