Five Common Birth Injuries in Newborns

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Becoming a parent is perhaps the biggest joy that one can experience in their life. Your beautiful bundle of joy coming into this world can potentially change your life completely and make it more colorful. Most parents would prefer to die than to see their child suffering. Therefore, no parent wants anything to happen to their child, let alone a birth injury. However, birth injuries are not very unusual in newborn babies. 

The process of labor and baby birth is pretty complex. Therefore, birth injuries usually happen due to the force of labor and delivery. In normal circumstances, if a baby is delivered through a narrow vaginal canal, finding minor scratches or bruises on your baby is a common sight. But sometimes, more severe birth injuries can also occur during labor or delivery, which you might get to know after the birthing. 

Babies with an unusually large size born to a petite mother or those lying in the uterus in an abnormal position often are at higher risk of sustaining birth injuries. Other risk factors include improper use of birthing tools leading to birth injuries in the baby. Since birth injuries occur at the time of birth, they often involve harm occurring to the baby’s bones, joints, or nerves. Doctors recommend a cesarean delivery when the baby’s weight is more than eleven pounds. However, a birth through a surgical procedure is also not without risks either. 

Luckily most birth injuries, such as erbs palsy go away with early treatment in the first year of the baby’s life. However, others may remain with your baby for a more extended period or throughout their life. Below you will know more about Erb’s palsy and other commonly occurring birth injuries in newborns. 

  1. Clavicle Fractures

A commonly occurring birth injury is called a clavicle or collarbone fracture. The collarbone is the link between the chest and the shoulder. This type of birth injury seldom causes a visible deformity because of the location of the fracture. Common symptoms include pain in the affected site. As a mother, there is no need to worry too much because this injury heals over time with simple treatments such as strapping the arm to the chest. Luckily, the rate of bone recovery in babies is rapid; therefore, a simple treatment will heal the baby in a few weeks. 

  1. Erb’s palsy (Brachial Plexus nerve Injuries)

This injury happens when damage occurs to the brachial plexus nerve in the baby. A brachial plexus is a group of nerves traveling from the neck to the arms. Therefore an injury in the brachial plexus nerve impacts the neck, arm, wrist, hand, and fingers. The injury occurs when the baby is pulled with force while the head is out, but the shoulder is still stuck against the mother’s pelvic bone. The pull stretches the brachial plexus nerve leading to a birth injury. The treatment can take a few weeks.

In most cases, the baby heals completely if the treatment starts within four weeks of birth. But surgery may be needed if the injury is still visible after 3 to 6 months of treatment. So make sure you follow the treatment religiously to speed up recovery.

  1. Femur fractures

Femur in our everyday language is known as thighbone. Thighbone fractures happen when the baby’s leg is awkwardly placed during delivery. Femur fractures are among the rarely occurring newborn injuries. The number of reported cases of femur fractures in newborns is between 0.13 and 0.077 per 1,000 deliveries. The first case of femur fracture was reported in 1922 due to breech birth.

The usual symptoms include feeling pain when the baby’s legs are moved or their diaper is changed. Since babies cannot communicate their pain in words, their unusual crying is the only way to know. In newborns, the treatment for femur fractures includes immobilization with a splint or Pavlik harness. 

  1. Brain damage 

Brain damage is another birth injury in newborn babies due to trauma or stress during the delivery. Brain damage is among the most severe injuries in a newborn baby. The causes of brain damage in newborns include loss of oxygen (Asphyxia), internal bleeding in the brain, vacuum extraction, physical force, choking by an umbilical cord, etc. 

The recovery from brain damage varies in each case. Depending on the severity of the injury and the affected area of the brain, the baby can have a full or a partial recovery leading to long-term disability. 

  1. Newborn jaundice

This is by far the most curable birth injury in the baby in which they appear pale to yellow in their skin color at the time of birth. This happens due to relatively high levels of a pigment called bilirubin. The color goes away after a few days. The most commonly employed treatment in newborn jaundice is light therapy. In this treatment, the baby lies under the light without any clothes to expose their skin to light. 

Conclusion

Pregnancy is a difficult time of one’s life, so is the time of labor and birthing. At all these times, prospective mothers need to take care of themselves and their babies. Often a simple carelessness or plain bad luck can cause birth injury in your baby. However, the welcoming news is that most birth injuries heal independently or with simple treatments without causing much harm. Babies develop rapidly, so they also have an exceptional healing capacity. However, still, you cannot deny the importance of early diagnosis and treatment, which can prevent a simple birth injury from changing into a severe disability for life. The earlier you consult a doctor about a birth injury in your newborn, the better chances you have for a speedy recovery.