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Birth injuries from forceps

Many mothers in New York may have had their baby delivered through the use of forceps. These are relatively simple mechanical tools that can be used to help guide a child through the birth canal in the event of a difficult vaginal delivery.

They are similar in principle and purpose to a large set of salad tongs. A doctor may use them to grasp the head of the emerging infant and pull them out. Experts have noted that forceps usually result in a positive outcome for both mother and child, especially when used in conjunction with a vacuum extractor. However, it is possible that misuse, misapplication or simple misfortune may result in injury to the mother or the child.

There is a possibility that forceps may tear the vagina. There may also be problems with the mother's defecation and urination after a forceps-assisted delivery. To the child, one of the major risks is injury to the head and face. These injuries rarely last for very long. They may include bruises, contusions and cuts on the head. Parts of the skull may swell or deform, causing the infant's head to take a pronounced conical shape. Although disconcerting, this condition almost always goes away completely in very short time. The worst cases involve injury to the nerves or serious bleeding inside the skull of the child.

Any birth injury has the potential to cause long-term harm to the child that suffered it. In some cases the effects are shown immediately, whereas in others they may take some time to appear and be identified. A medical malpractice attorney can examine the circumstances and determine what remedies may be available.

Source: MedlinePlus, A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, "Assisted delivery with forceps," last updated Jan. 12, 2015

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