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Birth injuries: When medical negligence is a factor

Having a baby might be one of the most exciting, joyful times in your life. It can also be a bit stressful, especially if you have a health condition that necessitates specialized care and monitoring during pregnancy, labor and delivery. Like all good parents in Massachusetts and beyond, you want what's best for your child, even while he or she is still in the womb. You can do your part in pregnancy by attending your prenatal doctor visits and informing your obstetrician of any concerning issues that might arise.

Your OB, nurses and other medical team members are there to keep you and your baby as safe as possible. In fact, you can reasonably expect that your medical team will provide high-quality care, according to state regulations and accepted safety standards. Sadly, that's not always how it goes. Many families are devastated when birth injuries occur that might have been prevented were it not for medical negligence.

Prenatal factors

There are numerous maternal medical conditions and other signs that your OB might spot during pregnancy that let him or her know you or your baby are at risk. Such issues might include your baby's estimated weight; if he or she is too large, it could present serious problems in the birth canal, so a Cesarean section might be necessary.

If you're showing symptoms of pre-term labor, your doctor and nurses will likely kick it into gear to assess your situation and make decisions as to a best course of action. Premature labor at less than 37 weeks can have serious consequences, including possible birth trauma for your child.

Factors during labor and delivery

No two labors are exactly the same. In fact, you might have other children and previous experience with the birthing process; however, one of your own pregnancies might be quite different from another. Obstetricians, midwives and other licensed medical professionals will closely observe the labor process to recognize signs of maternal or fetal distress.

If your labor is not progressing in a healthy manner, it's up to your doctor to decide what to do. Other issues, such as if your baby is presenting as a breech birth or in some other position that is not head-first, facing down, may also prompt a need for immediate medical action.

When birth injuries occur

Your child might suffer bruising or other injuries from a forceps delivery. If your baby has shoulder dystocia during delivery, he or she might suffer a brachial plexus injury, which affects the nerves in the arms or hands. Bone fractures, facial paralysis and other injuries often happen because of medical negligence.

In worst cases, birth injuries can be fatal or cause permanent disability to a mother or infant. It's understandable that you might feel angry or frustrated if an injury that was easily preventable occurs because a medical team member disregarded protocol or otherwise failed in his or her fiduciary duty to you and your child. Many Massachusetts parents seek justice in civil court when such incidents occur.

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