Childbirth is not an easy process. Both mother and child go through quite a bit of stress during the birth and may end up with some minor bumps and bruises as a result. One affliction that a child can experience after coming into the world is a subconjunctival hemorrhage. This patch of redness in the eye is generally harmless; however it can occasionally lead to, or be a symptom of, a more serious condition.
A subconjunctival hemorrhage occurs when there is bleeding in the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the thin, moist, transparent membrane that covers the white part of the eye (called the sclera) and the inside of the eyelids. It is the outermost protective coating of the eyeball” and “contains nerves and many small blood vessels. While these blood vessels are not too easy to see, if the eye is inflamed then these vessels can become large and more visible. A subconjunctival hemorrhage occurs when the blood vessels break. The hemorrhage results in a bright red or dark red patch on the sclera.
Medical Errors and Subconjunctival Hemorrhages
A difficult labor, during which there are more contractions than normal, can result in a hemorrhage. This expended period of contraction time paired with the long time that the newborn spends inside the highly-compact birth canal, can put more pressure than normal on the newborn, which can culminate in a subconjunctival hemorrhage in one or both of his or her eyes.
Such hemorrhages can also be caused by certain assisted delivery techniques, including a forceps tool or a vacuum-assisted delivery. Using either one of these can result in strain on the newborn's head. This stress and pressure greatly increase the chances of the child suffering a subconjunctival hemorrhage, especially if these techniques are done improperly, negligently, or recklessly in an attempt to speed up the birth.
Newborns in difficult deliveries can lose their supply of oxygen. This can happen if the umbilical cord becomes tangled, or if the pressure in the birth canal compresses the fragile body in a way that impairs the ability to breathe. This can increase the internal distress levels, which can cause the child's most fragile eye blood vessels to burst.
Complications of A Subconjunctival Hemorrhage
According to Stanford Medicine, this is a frequent condition in newborn children. The hemorrhage typically goes away on its own after a period of time. It will decrease in size and may change colors as it heals.
However, if the hemorrhage does not go away or there are other symptoms such as pain or vision changes then it is a good idea to contact a health care provider. In addition, as a subconjunctival hemorrhage may be a sign of a difficult birth, it is important that the doctors taking care of you follow up and make sure that there is not any additional reason that the child may have a hemorrhage such as another pressure-related injury.
Contact A Philadelphia Birth Injury Attorney
If you believe your child was the victim of a medical error that resulted in a birth injury, please do not hesitate to contact the legal team at the law firm of Gilman and Bedigian today.