The term birth injury refers to trauma that affects a newborn during labor, childbirth or the period immediately after birth. While some birth injuries are minor, others carry severe, lifelong consequences.

Understanding these five common factors that lead to birth injuries can help families determine whether they may be eligible for compensation to cover their child’s medical care and associated cost.

  1. Fetal macrosomia

When a newborn weighs more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces, the child is diagnosed with fetal macrosomia. This condition can prolong the delivery, a risk factor for birth injury as the infant spends an extended period in the birth canal.

  1. Cephalopelvic disproportion

With this condition, the mother’s pelvis is too small or abnormally shaped. Because the infant cannot pass through the birth canal, complications can result.

  1. Abnormal birthing position

When a baby does not descend to the appropriate position before labor begins, the risk for complications increases. In some cases, the doctor must perform a cesarean section if the infant presents in breech or face-first position rather than with the head down.

  1. Premature development

Babies born too early are at risk for numerous health complications. Infants delivered before 37 weeks gestation are also at an elevated risk for birth injuries.

  1. Use of delivery instruments

Using forceps, vacuum or other tools to facilitate delivery increases the risk of birth injuries. However, prolonged labor is also a risk factor, so the medical team must weigh the advantages of these protocols.

Doctors who deliver babies are well-versed in the proper protocol for these and other complications that contribute to birth injury. When a member of the care team acts negligently, however, the family could be eligible for financial damages for medical malpractice.

In Pennsylvania, you must file a claim for medical malpractice before your child turns 2, or within two years of the date of diagnosis, if he or she experienced a birth injury. Claims require a certificate of merit from a licensed professional asserting that the doctor’s actions in your child’s case fell outside the appropriate standard of medical care.