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When birth injuries require further action

According to the Merck Manual, birth injuries are defined as any injury that occurs during the process of birth -- many babies experience minor injuries such as abrasions or bruises when passing through the birth canal. Some babies even experience minor damage to nerves or some broken bones, but medical experts note that many of these injuries resolve themselves with little to no treatment.

Sometimes, more serious injuries are experienced during delivery, particularly if the birth is difficult, at risk or involves complications. Since the head often travels through the birth canal first, serious brain or head injury can occur in these situations. Some types of serious birth injuries include skull fractures, collection of the blood in certain areas of the brain or bleeding in the brain.

Bleeding in the brain doesn't usually cause immediate symptoms in a newborn, though you might noticed lethargy, seizures or poor feeding habits. Bleeding might occur in several places within the brain; newborns with these issues are treated with fluids, warmth and other medical measures and can recover. Some infants may need to be treated with surgery.

Other major birth injuries that can occur include bone and nerve damage and a condition called perinatal asphyxia. Perinatal asphyxia occurs when too little oxygen gets to the fetus; often, it is caused by an issue around the time of or during the birth. Problems with the umbilical cord or a fetal infection are two causes of perinatal asphyxia. The condition must be treated immediately, but can leave lasting injuries to the newborn's organs and body systems.

While some birth injuries cannot be avoided, others occur because of medical errors or delays in treatment. When these tragic events affect families, the families have a right to seek compensation for medical expenses and other losses associated with the injury.

Source: Merck Manual, "Birth Injury," Arthur E. Kopelman, accessed July 01, 2015

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