A birth injury refers to any type of physical or mental injury that a baby sustains during the birthing process. Some of the most common birth injuries include cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy and shoulder dystocia. Many different factors can contribute to the development of a birth injury:
Maternal health complications
One of the most common complications that a mother can experience during pregnancy is high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. If left untreated, hypertension can lead to a number of serious health complications for both the mother and her unborn child, including pre-eclampsia and placental abruption. Any of these conditions can increase the risk of a baby sustaining a birth injury.
Poor maternal nutrition
If a mother does not consume enough of the necessary nutrients during pregnancy, her unborn child may not receive the nourishment needed to develop properly, and this can lead to a number of birth injuries and defects, including low birth weight, skeletal abnormalities and intellectual disabilities.
Abnormal fetal position
The position of the fetus in the womb can play a role in whether or not a baby sustains a birth injury. For example, if the fetus is in a breech position (feet first), this increases the risk of the baby sustaining a skull fracture during delivery. Another example is if the fetus is in a transverse lie position (sideways), which can cause the umbilical cord to become wrapped around the baby’s neck, potentially leading to asphyxia.
Babies who are born prematurely, before 37 weeks gestation, are at an increased risk of sustaining a birth injury because their bodies are not fully developed, and they are more fragile. Common birth injuries associated with premature babies include respiratory distress syndrome, intraventricular hemorrhage and necrotizing enterocolitis.
If you think that your baby has sustained a birth injury, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Many birth injuries, if left untreated, can lead to serious health complications or even death.