Although the rate of birth injuries these days is much lower than any other time period, the unfortunate reality is that they still occur. In fact, around 7 out of every 1,000 infants born in the United States experience some type of trauma or injury during birth. Although the injuries are not always apparent, there are usually several warning signs that indicate something went amiss.
Pregnancy Warning Signs
The first step in determining the warning signs of a birth injury is to understand how certain factors can lead to high-risk pregnancies, heightening the risk of birth injuries. Although birth injuries and trauma can happen without warning, the following scenarios typically place mothers in the high-risk pregnancy category:
· An infant in the breech position (feet first prior to delivery)
· Fetal macrosomia (unusually large birth weight)
· Premature labor and delivery
· Maternal preeclampsia
· Gestational diabetes
· Maternal autoimmune disorders
· Advanced maternal age
Newborn Warning Signs
If an infant experiences a birth injury, the warning signs will greatly depend on the type of trauma, the severity, and what part of the body is injured.
For example, Erb’s Palsy is a common birth injury that occurs after the baby is pulled with too much force during a difficult, stressful delivery, leading to an injured arm. Erb’s Palsy may not be diagnosed immediately, but the warning signs typically show up shortly after birth. The most common warning signs of Erb’s Palsy include:
· A decreased hand grip on the affected side
· Arm numbness and weakness
· Possible full or partial paralysis on the affected side
· A limp, unresponsive arm that hangs loosely or bends sharply at the elbow
Cerebral Palsy (CP) is another disorder caused by birth injuries, and unlike Erb’s Palsy, the warning signs aren’t always immediately noticeable. In fact, it may take several months after birth and sometimes not until a child starts school before CP is diagnosed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the warning signs of CP will differ according to age group:
Infants who are 6 months of age and under may:
· Seem extremely floppy or extremely stiff
· Be unable to hold their heads up when being picked up
· Constantly arch their back and neck
Infants between 6 months of age to a year may:
· Fail to roll over in either direction
· Fail to clap, bring hands together, and/or bring hands to their mouth
· Fail to reach out with only one hand
Infants over a year old may:
· Fail to crawl
· Fail to walk without support
Head and Brain Injury Warning Signs
If a head injury occurred during childbirth, the physical signs may be obvious, but internal damage will take X-rays and examinations in most cases. Physical warning signs of head and brain damage may include blood collecting in the skull, leading to an abnormally large head, known as cephalhematoma. In addition, an infant may show obvious signs of bruising, scratches, and lacerations.
In many cases, brain damage is caused by oxygen deprivation, either a complete lack of oxygen or partial oxygen loss. Typical warning signs include:
· Low Apgar score
· Weak breathing or no breathing at all
· Pale or blue in appearance
· Poor muscle tone
· Low heart rate
Additional Resources on Infant Birth Injuries
For more in-depth information on infant birth injuries, including additional warning signs, diagnosis, treatment options and more, Birth Injury Guide is dedicated to spreading awareness and helping parents understand their rights and options. â€‹
This blog was submitted by our friends at Birth Injury Guide. BirthInjuryGuide.org is staffed by a birth injury advocacy group based out of Houston, TX. Their staff includes professional writers and researchers, birth injury experts, and medical professionals, all working together to produce the most comprehensive birth injury information source possible.