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What Can Cause Skull Fractures for Newborns During Childbirth?

Posted on in Birth Injury

Cook County birth injury attorney skull fracture

The process of labor and delivery can sometimes put strain on the body of a child. During a vaginal delivery, a child’s head must pass through the birth canal, which can put significant pressure on the skull and brain. While the bones of a newborn’s skull have not yet fused together, allowing for some flexibility during birth, delivery can still cause compression to the child’s head, and in some cases, an infant may experience a skull fracture.

A fractured skull can be very dangerous for a newborn, and it can cause permanent brain damage and lead to a variety of other complications. If a fracture results in the bones of the skull pressing into the child’s brain tissue, this can result in conditions such as cystic encephalomalacia. Bleeding around the brain can cut off blood flow, leading to neonatal stroke or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Damage to the brain can cause permanent conditions such as cerebral palsy (CP).

Reasons a Child May Suffer a Skull Fracture

Skull fractures are relatively rare during unassisted births. However, doctors, nurses, or other medical personnel involved in the labor and delivery process should recognize the signs that a child may be at risk of this type of injury and take the proper measures to ensure that the child is delivered safely. Some of the potential causes of skull fractures for newborns include:

  • Assisted delivery - In some cases, a doctor will use forceps or vacuum extraction to help guide a child through the birth canal during delivery. If these devices are not used properly, they can place pressure on the child’s head and cause skull fractures.

  • Pitocin use - This drug is often used to induce labor, but it can cause extremely strong contractions, which can place a great deal of pressure on a child’s head and body. If Pitocin is not administered correctly, or if the condition of the mother and child are not monitored properly, the child may experience a skull fracture during delivery.

  • The child’s weight and presentation - A baby may be at risk of skull fractures during delivery if he or she is unusually large, or if he or she is positioned in a way that could cause complications during vaginal delivery. Medical personnel should be aware of these risk factors and advise the mother about whether a Cesarean delivery (C-section) may be necessary to minimize the risk of injury to the child.

  • Prolonged labor - If labor and delivery last longer than expected, this can increase the chance that the child will experience skull fractures. This is especially true if labor stalls while the child is progressing through the birth canal. Doctors should take the proper measures to address prolonged labor, including performing a C-section if necessary.

  • Premature birth - If a child is born before the pregnancy reaches full term, his or her skull may not be fully developed, which can increase the risk of fractures during delivery.

Contact an Illinois Infant Brain Injury Attorney

If your child suffered a skull fracture during birth, you will want to be sure to receive the proper medical care and take steps to address the ongoing effects of this injury. Our Chicago birth injury lawyers can help you determine whether medical negligence played a role in your case, and we will work with you to determine what financial resources are available to provide the help you need. Call us today at 312-945-1300 to schedule a free consultation.








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