Over 22,000 babies in Washington and across the U.S. are dying every year either before, during or just after delivery. The infant mortality rate in this country is 5.8 per 1,000 births, and though it has been declining over the decades, it is still higher than the rate found in other developed countries like Spain, Hungary, Cuba and Japan.
Parents in Washington should be aware of the birth injuries that their newborn might fall victim to. One of the rarest is called Klumpke paralysis and involves an injury to a child's brachial plexus, a system of nerves located in the shoulder. The nerves could be stretched, scarred or torn. There are two types of tears: avulsions when they occur at the spine, and ruptures when they arise anywhere else.
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is a type of birth injury that expectant mothers in Washington may want to know more about. It is a brain dysfunction (encephalopathy) caused by a shortage of oxygen going to the brain (hypoxia) and of blood reaching the brain (ischemia). Among full-term infants, it arises in anywhere from three to 20 out of every 1,000 live births. That rate goes up to 60% among pre-term infants.
Washington residents may be familiar with a condition called intraventricular hemorrhage where the ventricles, or fluid-filled areas, of the brain bleed. It often develops in babies born more than 10 weeks early because they have undeveloped blood vessels. Babies born with respiratory distress syndrome or unstable blood pressure, among other medical conditions, are also at a high risk for IVH.
Cephalohematoma refers to a bleeding outside of the blood vessels, or hematoma, that occurs between a baby's scalp and skull. It is the result of damage to the blood vessels during labor and delivery. Between 1 and 2% of babies develop it during or after birth, so expectant mothers in Washington may want to know more about the condition and what it might entail.
Spina bifida, a condition where the spine fails to form properly and leaves the nerves of the spinal column exposed, is sometimes found in infants. Parents in Washington should know that the condition can be mild or serious depending on the type. There are three types: spina bifida occulta, meningocele and myelomeningocele.
When a baby is born, it may experience a mild or severe injury while being delivered. In some cases, the injury may be caused by the negligence of a Washington doctor. For instance, a mother may be given too much anesthesia, and that can have an impact on the baby's health. It is not uncommon for babies to have fevers or other symptoms if the mother is given an epidural.
Chorioamnionitis refers to the swelling of the fetal membranes. It's caused by a bacterial infection, usually one that is caught by the mother in her urogenital tract and works its way up to the baby. The bacteria could be group B streptococci, E. coli or an anaerobic bacteria. It often arises during first pregnancies, during long and stressful labors and among mothers under 21. Washington residents may want to know how this is treated.
It is an unfortunate fact that babies in Washington can suffer broken bones and fractures during the delivery process. Parents may be able to tell if their baby has suffered a broken bone if there is intense swelling, the baby cannot move the limb or the baby is continually crying.
Erb's palsy is one form of brachial plexus injury that may arise during birth. The brachial plexus refers to a network of nerve fibers emanating from the cervical and thoracic portions of the spine that intertwines as it reaches out to the armpit region. It then becomes a network of nerves as it enters the arm. Washington residents should know that the brachial plexus controls movement in the shoulders, arms and hands.