StatsPearls reported in 2022 that birth injuries have been on the decline since 2012 due to advances in obstetrics. Despite this good news, they still happen more often than they should since many situations are something preventable.
Birth injuries can have significant and long-lasting consequences. Doctors and healthcare professionals must be aware of factors that can contribute to these injuries before delivery to minimize the risks.
The position of the baby in the womb plays an important role during delivery. An abnormal fetal position, such as breech (feet-first) or transverse (sideways), can increase the risk of birth injuries. Doctors should monitor fetal positioning throughout pregnancy and consider interventions when necessary.
Prolonged labor, whether in the early or active stages, can increase the risk of birth injuries. It can lead to fetal distress, oxygen deprivation and the need for assisted delivery methods like forceps or vacuum extraction. Monitoring the progress of labor and assessing the baby’s well-being is essential to make timely decisions.
Maternal health conditions
Certain maternal health conditions, such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure or infections, can increase the risk of birth injuries. Doctors should closely manage and monitor these conditions during pregnancy to reduce potential complications during delivery.
Doctors should promptly address signs of fetal distress, such as an abnormal heart rate, meconium staining or reduced fetal movement. These indicators can signal oxygen deprivation, which can lead to birth injuries such as cerebral palsy or developmental delays.
Twins or higher-order multiples have an increased risk of complications during delivery. Doctors should prepare for potential challenges, such as positioning difficulties and premature birth, and should closely monitor multiple pregnancies.
Large birth weight
Babies with a birth weight significantly above the average can be at greater risk for birth injuries. A large birth weight can lead to shoulder dystocia, which is when the baby’s shoulders get stuck during delivery. This can be fatal. Healthcare providers should anticipate these situations and be ready to respond with appropriate techniques.
The use of forceps or vacuum extraction can be necessary to assist in delivery. However, improper use or excessive force can result in facial nerve damage, head trauma or brachial plexus injuries. Doctors should have proper training to use these tools safely and judiciously.
Birth injuries are often preventable as long as doctors pay attention to risk factors. By staying informed and proactive, healthcare professionals can contribute to safer outcomes for both mothers and their newborns.