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Dangers of Vacuum Extraction in Delivery

Even when all the signs are positive for the health of an expectant mother and her unborn child, it is not possible to control every aspect of the birth process. In some cases, unexpected developments may require an emergency Cesarean. More rarely, the obstetric team may decide on an operative vaginal delivery using forceps or vacuum extraction. Vacuum extraction can be lifesaving, but if the physician uses this medical device incorrectly, it can cause injury or serious damage to the infant.

Given the risks involved, vacuum extraction should only be used when potential benefits are clearly indicated ― for instance, if labor has been stalled for more than two hours and there is evidence of fetal distress. Obstetricians who choose this option, which involves attaching a cup to the head in the birth canal using vacuum suction to pull the infant forward, should follow standard protocols for correctly placing the cup on the skull and applying the correct pressure. Failure to do so can result in the following birth injuries:

  • Superficial cuts or swelling
  • Brachial plexus, or nerve damage in the shoulder, arm and hand
  • Fractured collarbone or skull
  • Jaundice
  • Hematomas, or accumulated blood under the scalp or skullcap
  • Intracranial bleeding
  • Cerebral palsy

Head wounds, neonatal jaundice and some hematomas will heal within several weeks of birth without special medical treatment, and the majority of cases of neonatal brachial plexus resolve successfully. However, traumatic injury to the brain can cause subsequent motor and cognitive impairments or cerebral palsy.

We understand the challenges involved in proving medical malpractice in a birth injury case. Along with our legal skill and professional resources, we also have a strong commitment to securing just outcomes for families dealing with the tragic consequences of a birth procedure gone wrong.

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