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Understanding fetal lacerations

Studies show that between 1.5 and 6 percent of all births performed by cesarean section in Texas and across the U.S. result in fetal lacerations. Most birth injuries of this type are minor, but some are severe enough to require surgical repair.

Fetal lacerations typically occur when doctors use improper procedures or techniques during C-sections and inadvertently cut the baby with forceps, scalpels or other instruments. A study by the Patient Safety Authority, or PSA, found that between 1.5 percent and 1.9 percent of babies delivered by C-section suffered lacerations, but other studies have placed the percentage as high as 6 percent. Meanwhile, a National Institutes of Health study found that at least 3 percent of all C-section births result in fetal lacerations. Depending on the severity of the injury, doctors will often treat the affected tissue with topical adhesives, sutures and oral antibiotics. However, severe cases may require corrective surgery.

According to the PSA, certain risk factors during C-sections increase the risk of fetal lacerations during childbirth, including ruptured membranes before the C-section, active labor, emergency C-sections, low transverse uterine incisions and inexperienced doctors. The PSA also reports that there are several long-term medical issues linked to fetal lacerations. These include disfiguring cuts, bone fractures, facial nerve palsy and more.

Parents of children who suffer fetal lacerations or other birth injuries may have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the responsible doctor. A personal injury attorney might review the case and determine if the doctor failed to provide the standard of care during delivery. If so, the parents and child may be owed compensation for current and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of income and other related damages.

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