One of the most common preventable birth injuries is a brachial plexus injury. A brachial plexus injury occurs when the nerves in the baby’s shoulder are damaged during the labor and delivery process. These unfortunate injuries are commonly caused by negligence, including a lack of proper care and attention to complications or difficulties with birthing.
While there are relatively few characteristics considered as risk factors for brachial plexus injuries, new research is providing helpful insight into factors associated with these birth injuries that may help healthcare providers understand the risks and make appropriate decisions. A recent study published in the Journal of Perinatology is helping address the relationship between brachial plexus injuries and multiparity, or women who have had more than one natural (vaginal) birth.
Brachial Plexus Injury Rate of Occurrence
According to the research report published last month, brachial plexus injuries occur in approximately 0.3 to 2 out of every 1,000 births. Data collected from one academic healthcare facility between October 2003 and March 2013 indicated a total of 78 recorded brachial plexus injuries. A review of these injury cases showed that 91 percent of these injuries occurred during natural childbirth, while only seven occurred during cesarean section (c-section) procedures.
It is important to understand the rate of occurrence by type of childbirth in order for healthcare providers to understand the risk factors and reduce the likelihood of preventable injuries.
Brachial Plexus Injury and Multiparity Research
There is a common misconception that babies born to women who have had previous natural births are at a decreased risk of birth injuries like brachial plexus injuries. The study published in the Journal of Perinatology indicates, however, that women who have undergone the natural birthing process previously are at as great a risk of brachial plexus birth injuries as women who have had no previous natural birth experiences. Of the 78 brachial plexus injury cases studied, 58 percent of the injuries occurred during natural delivery to women who had previous natural childbirth experiences, as compared to 42 percent of first-time mothers.
This recent research also helps to clarify the risks associated with large birthweight infants, which are more common in subsequent pregnancies, thus increasing the risk of difficulties with the birth process that could lead to birth injuries. The median birthweight of babies to first-time mothers is 7.92 pounds, whereas the median for subsequent births is 8.95. Researchers assert these findings as evidence for healthcare providers to be cautious and not assume that women with previous natural childbirth experiences are not at risk for suffering a birth injury.
Birth Injury Attorneys Offer Guidance and Answers
Regardless of the situation and risk factors contributing to a brachial plexus injury, there is no question that the consequences of such an injury can take a toll on the baby and his or her family. An estimated 75 percent of infants who have suffered from a brachial plexus injury are diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy – a condition that can result in life-altering and permanent disabilities. Because these injuries are most often preventable, it is important that parents understand their rights, as well as that of their child.
When birth injuries are caused by negligence, it is important to seek the guidance of a birth injury attorney to determine the best method of protecting the rights and future of your family. In many cases, the best course of action is filing a birth injury lawsuit when negligence or malpractice caused the injury. To learn more about birth injuries and your rights, contact Brown Wharton & Brothers for a no-obligation consultation.