Risk of Birth Injuries During Prolonged Labor

A birth injury is any type of injury sustained by a newborn during or as a result of the birth process. Many birth injuries are temporary, relatively minor concerns that have no long-term impact on the child's life. But other birth injuries can cause significant impairment that leads to lifelong disability, such as cerebral palsy.

Long Labor Birth Injury

Birth injuries most often occur when the mother's pregnancy is too short or too long -typically when pregnancy or labor complications occur. One major risk factor for birth injuries is a prolonged labor. According to 4MyChild, a support organization for families of children with special needs, two factors greatly increase the risk of birth injuries during a long labor:

  • If the baby gets lodged in the birth canal without an oxygen supply
  • If the baby is not delivered within 24 hours of the mother's water breaking

A shortage of oxygen during delivery, called perinatal asphyxia, often causes brain injuries during birth as it harms the tissue in the cerebral motor cortex of an infant's brain. Rapid delivery of a baby helps to avoid asphyxia and ensure spontaneous breathing by the infant.

During a long labor, there is an increased chance that a baby will suffer asphyxia. Perinatal asphyxia may be caused by:

  • Umbilical cord compression
  • Placental abruption or premature detachment
  • Maternal low blood pressure
  • Birth trauma

Birth Injury Medical Malpractice

While some birth injuries are tragic accidents for which no one is responsible, others may be caused by negligent medical care. Medical providers have a duty to provide uniform and safe care. If a doctor or nurse provided substandard medical care and a birth injury resulted, the parents of the injured child may be able to sue the at-fault person for damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Possible negligence that may result in birth injury includes:

  • Failure to monitor or perform proper tests
  • Failure to recognize fetal distress or umbilical cord compression
  • Failure to order or delay in ordering a necessary cesarean section
  • Improper use of forceps or vacuums

If you child suffered injury during labor or birth, contact an experienced birth injury lawyer in your area to discuss any legal claims you may have.