America is a nation that prides itself on being one of the most technologically and medically advanced countries in the world. This may be true in certain areas, but there is one area of medicine where America seems to be failing. That area is birth injury and infant mortality rates.
Birth Injury Guide is sad to report the results of a recent study that shows infant mortality and birth injury rates continue to rise despite advances in medicine. In one of the most advanced societies in the world, the U.S. healthcare system is failing our most vulnerable citizens.
The Shocking Statistics
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the rate of birth injury has risen by 75 percent since 2000. Currently, as many as eight out of every 1,000 infants born in America will suffer a birth injury while being delivered. Worse, post-delivery complications have increased by 50 percent over the same time period.
Despite advances in science, medicine, and technology, rates of infant death have been on the rise in the U.S. for decades. The rate of infant death has decreased across the board, but the U.S. still trails other countries. For example, in 2017 Singapore’s infant mortality rate was 2.2 out of every 1,000 births, while the U.S. rate was an ignoble 5.7 out of 1,000.
Infant mortality in the U.S. is also higher than the rates in both Antigua and Cuba. In other countries like France, Germany, and Japan the maternal injury and death rate has decreased significantly. Still, rates in the U.S. continue to rise.
Why Are Birth Injuries on the Rise in America?
Simply, mothers and babies are not receiving the care they need. The natural process of giving birth is no more dangerous now than it was 20 years ago. Babies are not more fragile. Women’s bodies are not suddenly failing en masse. The only variable that has changed, in fact the only variable that could change, is the medical care that mothers and infants receive.
Obstetric healthcare has experienced a pendulum swing since the 1950s and 60s. In those days, mothers who gave birth in hospitals were patients, completely at the mercy of medical professionals to deliver their babies. Twilight sleep was standard practice. Medical interventions completely replaced the birth experience, and in a way, it was safer for women.
However, since the 1990s, mothers have reclaimed the birth experience and have started balking at medical interventions, preferring vaginal birth over c-sections and making birth plans to endure prolonged labors. Whereas doctors used to perform c-sections arguably too much, many children suffer birth injuries because doctors do not perform c-sections when they are needed.
What is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury is an injury to an infant that occurs during labor or delivery. Some of the most common birth injuries are:
- Hypoxia or anoxia
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Cerebral palsy
- Brachial plexus injury
- Erb’s Palsy
- Caput succedaneum
- Intracranial hemorrhage
- Broken bones
- Shoulder dystocia
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage
- Spinal cord injury
What Causes Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries are caused by many factors. Oxygen deprivation injuries are usually caused by failing to diagnose the signs of fetal distress, while excessive force injuries often occur after prolonged vaginal deliveries. Severe HIE is the result of brain injuries or prolonged oxygen deprivation. Many birth injuries are due to the negligence of a doctor, nurse, midwife, or anesthesiologist, such as:
- Birth trauma
- Failure to monitor vital signs
- Inappropriate dosing of medication to the mother
- Umbilical cord injuries
- Forceps injuries
- Forceful traction on the arm or shoulder
- Improper use of vacuum extractor
- Delay in performing a c-section
These injuries are often preventable. There are standards of care that healthcare providers must adhere to. When they deviate, the consequences are devastating.
The Lasting Consequences of a Birth Injury
Birth injuries replace the joy that expectant parents deserve and look forward to with the arrival of their newborn. This joy is replaced with anxiety and sadness, medical bills and hospital stays. Depending on the injury, the infant may experience short- or long-term medical problems. In far too many cases, birth injuries result in lifelong disability.
In addition to the physical consequences of a birth injury, families also experience financial hardship. According to the CDC, a birth injury can cost a family more than $1 million dollars over the course of the child’s life. That is a significant burden for parents and families.
What Makes a Birth Injury a Legal Case?
Essentially, what makes a birth injury a legal case comes down to whether the birth injury was preventable or unpreventable. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell the difference. Physicians, nurses, midwives, and hospital administration usually receive training on the best way to explain a birth injury so that it seems like it was an unfortunate accident. This is not always the case.
Doctors and other medical providers who work on the labor and delivery floor know how to handle the birth process, but some fail to carry out precautionary measures such as an appropriate level of fetal monitoring, failing to perform a timely C-section or failing to test for maternal infections. Sometimes, they just make careless mistakes.
Mistakes like these injure more than 50,000 new mothers or their babies every year in the U.S.
Getting Help after a Birth Injury
Preparing for the arrival of a new baby is an extraordinary experience. It is emotional, exciting, nerve-wracking, and expensive. No expectant parent considers that they will suffer a birth injury due to healthcare negligence. It just seems like something that can’t happen here in the U.S. Unfortunately, as the CDC report shows, not only can it happen, but it does with increasing frequency.
If you or your baby is suffering the effects of a birth injury, contact Birth Injury Guide. We have a plethora of resources that can help you understand your injuries, your legal rights, and your options to pursue a legal claim. If you would like to speak with a birth injury lawyer, contact us for a free case review. You can call us toll free at 1-877-415-6603, or fill out our online contact form.