Head Trauma in Newborns Related to Operative Vaginal Delivery

Operative vaginal delivery is a term that indicates the use of forceps, vacuum devices and/or other invasive birth instruments. Vaginal deliveries utilizing these instruments are known to be of significant risk to newborns. As such, only properly, well-trained medical professionals should perform procedures using these devices. Head injuries that may result from instrumental delivery include dangerous hematomas, or blood clotting, in up to 6.1% of otherwise uncomplicated vaginal deliveries. These are serious head injuries that can potentially affect cognition, motor skills and overall health for the child’s entire life.

Vacuum-Assisted Deliveries

Contraindications for vacuum-assisted vaginal delivery include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Fetal bleeding disorders, including hemophilia
  • Cervix is not fully dilated
  • Labor abnormalities, including unfavorable fetal positions – e.g., breech
  • Gestational age of less than 34 weeks or fetal weight of less than 5.5 lbs.

Possible damage to newborn caused by vacuum extraction:

  • Bleeding in the head and within the skull from incorrect placement of vacuum extraction cup
  • Head trauma, skull fractures, scalp wounds
  • Increased risk of nerve, arm, hand and finger damage from shoulder’s inability to exit smoothly after head has emerged (brachial plexus injuries)

Medical professionals must comply with known medical protocols. If you suspect that your newborn was injured as a result of medical negligence, it is advisable to consult with a personal injury/medical malpractice attorney to explore your rights to compensation.

Forceps Contraindications and Injuries

Damage caused by forceps can be extreme. In some cases severe birth injuries result, including brain injury and paralysis. It is the responsibility and the duty of the medical professional to ensure that mother and child receive proper treatment. This of course means that forceps should not be used when potential dangers exist. Forceps’ use is contraindicated in the following examples:

  • When fetal bone disorders or weaknesses exist
  • When the baby has bleeding disorders – e.g., hemophilia
  • When the position of the head is uncertain or unknown
  • When the baby’s arms or shoulders extend beyond the head
  • When the baby is too large or the mother’s pelvis is too small for the baby to move through 6

Michels & Lew – California Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Firm

If your baby experienced head injuries as a result of the negligence of a medical professional and/or hospital, it is advisable to conduct a thorough investigation of the circumstances. Michels & Lew, California’s premier medical malpractice and personal injury law firm, has the resources, the skill and the experience to help you during this especially difficult time in your life. You may be entitled to medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and much more. Every case is unique and the results depend on the particular circumstances involved.

There are no costs to evaluate your case. As well, there are no legal fees unless we successfully resolve your case through negotiation or a court award. To schedule a complimentary case review, contact Michels & Lew at 800.639.1400.