The Use of Forceps During Delivery: The Dangers of Brain Bleeds and Birth Injuries

forceps, birth injury, San Jose personal injury attorneyThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more commonly known as the CDC, reports the latest data on annual births across the United States is at nearly 4 million, with an average birth rate of 12.4 percent per 1,000 population. The number of infant deaths is reported at 4,758.

Although the birth of a child is most often a joyous event, no child or family is immune from possible complications from biological or medical errors marring the expectations and hopes for the future. According to the Mayo Clinic, births involving the use of forceps heightens the risk of injury both to the mother and the baby. Forceps, resembling a pair of salad tongs, are used to facilitate and assist the newborn through the birth canal. Successful use of this medical device requires the physician to gently guide the baby’s head during each contraction but, when used improperly, the damage to the child can be both extensive and permanent.  

If too much force is applied or if the forceps are improperly placed, the strain on the child’s head can result in skull fractures, tearing of the vessels in the brain, swelling of the brain and intracranial trauma or brain bleed. There is also further risk of debilitating episodes of seizures, stroke, cerebral palsy as well as intellectual or developmental delays.

The use of forceps during childbirth may also pose dangerous risks and injuries for the mother. As indicated by the Mayo Clinic, mothers may experience the following complications:

  • Perineum or tissue pain;
  • Tears in the lower genital tract;
  • Injuries to the bladder or urethra;
  • Future risk of difficulty in urinating;
  • Short of long-term fecal or urinary incontinence;
  • Anemia or loss of healthy red blood cells;
  • Uterine rupture; and
  • Weakening of muscles supporting the pelvic organs.

Criteria for a forceps-assisted delivery is decided by several factors and the decision to use the device is not taken lightly. The following indicators are usually the primary factors that lead to a forceps-assisted delivery:

  • The infant is breach,
  • Irregular heartbeat,
  • Labor is not progressing, or
  • The mother faces health risks.

The use of forceps during delivery is so high risk that informed consent must be given and the attending physician must thoroughly explain the procedure and the risks involved. It is also important that this type of medical procedure be performed by a physician who is considered highly skilled in the procedure.  

If you reside in San Jose or Santa Clara County and believe your child’s irreversible brain injury was sustained due to negligence or inexperience of the attending birth physician, contact a skilled San Jose personal injury attorney at Janoff Law today to learn more about your legal options. Call 408-286-2300 to schedule a no-obligation consultation.



Janoff Law,
A Professional Corporation
1570 The Alameda, Suite 221, San Jose, CA 95126 408-286-2300
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