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Sometimes the responsibility of who passes on the birth injury is fuzzy. In some instances, a birth injury is passed on from the mother, though a physician’s job is to detect and treat any maternal problems. A couple of these injuries are attributed to infections, such as the group B strep infection or meningitis, both infections that the mother can carry in the vagina without even knowing it (about 1 in every 4 mothers carry these infections without any symptoms or knowledge of these infections). Children can catch this from their mothers just by being born, by passing through the birth canal where these infections are stored.
Other birth injuries caught from the mother are injuries developed through pregnancy that the physician should have tested for or found early. These injuries include folic acid deficiency, anemia, and spina bifida. These birth injuries could have possibly been prevented by the mother taking supplements based on the physicians recommendations.
Additional, a birth injury that could happen at the end of pregnancy just before delivery is meconium aspiration syndrome, which occurs when the infant is under stress from a long and difficult delivery. The infant defecates in the uterus and then breathes in the meconium, causing severe breathing problems after birth.
Birth injuries that arise during delivery is a common occurrence. These types of injuries occur from the use of vacuum extractor or forceps, tools invented to assist in delivery. Other injuries from delivery may include administering the wrong medication, mishandling the infant, resulting in broken bones, lacerations, or skull fractures. Depending on how the physician handles the delivery, an infant may also experience injuries related to stress, high blood pressure, or hypertension.
Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) occurs when fetal circulation does not transition to life outside the womb. Throughout pregnancy, the placenta provides oxygen to the fetus. After birth, however, the newborn must learn to breathe on his or her own. If this transition is unsuccessful, then the newborn may be suffering from PPHN.
PPHN is often the result of a difficult birth, yet in many instances it arises due to medical negligence. For example, prescription-based medications such as Zoloft, Celexa, and Paxil have been linked to an increase in blood pressure and during pregnancy this can place stress on the infant. Other causes include failure to treat maternal infections, failure to detect and prevent infant asphyxia, and performing an unnecessary C-section.