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What are the common risk factors of a birth injury?

During pregnancy, every parent hopes for a strong and healthy baby. None of them expect their child to suffer a birth injury. And birth injuries are actually quite rare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that only one in 33 babies suffer a birth injury.

However, many of those situations involve a range of similar risk factors.

Pregnancies at a later age

Sometimes, it is difficult for families to conceive a child. This challenge often leads to late-in-life pregnancies.

Parents in these situations may not have a choice of when they have a baby. Fortunately, the advanced medical care of today helps more older mothers have safe pregnancies and births.

However, it is still critical to note that the risk of a birth injury is higher when mothers are older than the age of 35.

Abnormal fetal positions

Mothers know that babies move around quite a bit in the womb. Moving is normal. And most of the time, they wind up in the cephalic presentation--or the headfirst position--for labor.

If the fetus is in a position other than that, they have a higher chance of sustaining a birth injury. The Mayo Clinic lists various fetal presentations, including:

  • Breech, or feet facing the birth canal
  • Sideways, with their neck at the birth canal
  • Face presentation, with the face outward to the birth canal

These positions may increase the risk of an injury, but they are often easy to fix. There are methods of turning the fetus into the correct position. Birth by C-section is also an option if the fetus does not move. 

The size of the fetus

The average size of a newborn baby ranges between:

  • A length of 18 to 22 inches
  • A weight of five to seven pounds

Babies who are larger or smaller than this average size face a higher risk of complications and injuries during birth.

There are risks, but doctors still have a responsibility

Parents usually do not have control over these factors. Mothers can take measures during pregnancy to keep their baby healthy, but they have limited control during the actual birth.

Doctors are the ones that have the ability--and the responsibility--to prevent birth injuries.

Medical professionals should know how to handle any of these risk factors. They should be able to detect all of these risks early on and prepare strategies and treatments that protect both mother and child.

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