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Vacuum Extraction Tied to Increase Risk of Birth Seizure

Feb 24, 2012 Brown Moore & Associates Medical Malpractice

Over the last few decades, U.S. obstetricians have made big changes in the way they deal with difficult births. It used to be that forceps were the favored method of extraction. Now, doctors are increasingly relying on vacuum-aided extraction and cesarean section surgeries.

However, new data suggests that this shift may not be safer for babies. Although the risk of birth injuries is relatively low overall, babies born via vacuum pump or C-section are more likely to suffer neurological complications.

An analysis of over 400,000 births by first-time mothers showed that babies delivered by c-section or with the aid of vacuums were 45 percent more likely to experience a seizure than babies whose delivery was aided by the use of forceps.

Seizures at birth usually occur because the baby has lost oxygen flow to the brain. Vacuums and c-sections may correlate with increased rate of seizure because those methods do not deliver the baby as quickly as forceps, increasing the period of time the baby is in distress.

However, forceps-aided births are not without their own complications. Babies born with forceps are more likely to experience subdural bleeding than babies born via vacuum or c-section.

Overall, seizures are more likely to cause long-term complications than bleeding.

Mothers Should Discuss Concerns With Obstetricians

No matter how they happen, birth injuries are a tragic event that can sometimes alter a child’s entire life path. When the injuries are the result of a care provider’s negligence, parents may be able to pursue a medical malpractice case on behalf of their injured child.

Women should review the risks associated with forceps and vacuum extraction errors well before delivery and discuss their concerns with their obstetrician. Good communication can help a doctor understand a mother’s concerns and reduce the risk of unanticipated complications.

Source: Reuters, “Forceps Delivery Tied to Lower Brain Injury Risk,” Amy Norton, Nov. 30, 2011.