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Common Birth Injuries

Fractures: In cases of abnormal birthing position, such as breech delivery, the clavicle, or collarbone, becomes most vulnerable to fracture. Bone fracture may also occur if the baby’s shoulder becomes lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bone, an injury known as shoulder dystocia. As a result of a fracture, the baby may not be able move his or her arm or shoulder on the side of the break. However, a baby that suffers from a fracture usually has a quick and complete recovery.

Bruising and Forceps Marks: Some bruising on the baby's face and head is normal due to the stress of passing through the birth canal. However, extensive bruising, caused by forceful extraction, the use of forceps, or vacuum extraction, can have lasting effects on the baby.

Abrupted Placenta: If the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus, a mother may have symptoms such as bleeding, cramping and abdominal pain. Proper medical attention is vital in this situation and the medical personnel must act quickly to prevent injury.

Facial Paralysis: Injury to the facial nerves occurs during birth because of the pressure of the birth canal or by forceps delivery. Paralysis is evident when there is no movement on the side of the face when the baby cries or when the eye(s) cannot be completely shut. The injury may cause temporary paralysis of the face, or in most serious cases when the nerve is torn, surgery is often required to repair the damage.

Umbilical Cord Entrapment: If the umbilical cord becomes looped around the neck of the baby, oxygen deprivation may occur. Lack of oxygen can cause serious brain injuries if proper and immediate care is not taken.

Skin Irritations: Newborn babies are prone to infections, especially pre-mature babies. Both mother and baby need to be protected during childbirth and following delivery to prevent a serious infection.

Fetal Distress: Certain circumstances put the baby and mother at risk of injury, especially if oxygen is not getting to the baby’s brain. If the fetus is in breech position, has an irregular heart beat or has umbilical cord misplacement, Severe complications can lead to serious injury if the proper care is not taken.

Caput Succedaneum: The soft tissues of a baby’s scalp become severely swollen, often following vacuum extraction. In most cases, the swelling subsides within a few days of birth.

Cephalohematoma: A lump on the baby's head may be caused by bleeding underneath on the cranial bones, an injury that may take up to three months to completely heal. In most cases, the area of bleeding is small and will recede in two weeks, but if the lump is large, the baby may develop jaundice as the red blood cells break down.

Suconjunctival Hemorrhage: Small blood vessels in the eyes can break causing a red band around the iris of one or both eyes. Redness usually fades within a week without causing permanent damage to the eyes.

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