Many people don’t realize that when a child is born, his skull is made up of several different plates of bone. It isn’t until after birth that these plates fuse and become a single piece of bone. During labor, these bones are actually still very soft and fragile. These characteristics make it easier for the skull to fit through the birth canal, but also leave the skull and brain more vulnerable to injury. There are many different types of skull fractures during birth and many have no serious consequences, but depending on the cause and severity of the skull fracture, the baby may suffer from lasting and permanent damage.
Natural Skull Fracture Causes
The process of birth is very difficult on both the bodies of the mother and the baby. In most circumstances, the baby’s skull will be under significant pressure from the sides of the birth canal and may also be compressed by the pelvic bones. Ordinarily, these pressures can cause swelling, bumps, or minor fractures, but no lasting damage.
In some cases, the mother’s pelvis is unusually narrow or the baby’s skull is unusually large. This puts a lot more pressure on the skull during the birthing process, and can cause more serious fractures and injuries. Depending on the level of cephalopelvic disproportion, a traditional birth may not be safe or appropriate, and a C-section may be preferred.
Malposition and Presentation
Most babies are positioned in the uterus in the same way, and this allows the safest and easiest labor when the baby exits headfirst. However, in some cases the baby is positioned awkwardly or presents itself differently as it exits the uterus and travels through the birth canal. These births are much more dangerous and put more pressure on all parts of the body, including the skull. Due to the risks of fractures, hypoxia, and harm to the mother, a baby that is improperly positioned may be birthed through C-section.
Long and Difficult Delivery
One of the common skull fracture causes is a long and difficult delivery. A baby’s skull will naturally experience a level of pressure and compression as it travels through the birth canal. When a birth takes a normal amount of time, this amount of pressure can be reduced in order to reduce the risk of serious injury.
Unfortunately, some women have much longer and more difficult deliveries, and this can be caused by a number of different factors. The longer the pregnancy takes, the longer the skull is compressed against the birth canal and the pelvic bones. If the labor is taking too long or if it appears that it will be too difficult, it is the responsibility of the doctor to order a C-section. This is done to minimize pain and risk to the mother and child and because a skull fracture causes serious brain damage in some cases.
Premature Birth Skull Fracture Causes
When a baby is born after less than 37 weeks of development, it is known as a premature birth. Because the baby is smaller, some people wrongly believe that this will make the delivery safer and less difficult. In these situations, the baby’s body is less developed and more vulnerable to injury, and this includes the skull which is susceptible to fractures and lacerations.
Forceps and Vacuum Assisted Delivery
Of all the skull fracture causes, medical malpractice and misconduct can result in the worst types of skull fractures and brain damage. Though many doctors use forceps and vacuum suction to deliver a baby, the way these tools are used and the amount they are used will affect the safety and well-being of the newborn. If these tools are used improperly or used too much during the birth, a baby may have serious skull fractures and other injuries.