What Are Common Birth Injuries?

These Are Common Birth Injuries

newborn baby girl in the hospital incubator after c-section in 33 weekBirth injuries can be caused by inadequate medical care, either by failure to notice a developing problem during delivery, or by failing to perform, or improperly performing, medical interventions. Below is a brief itemization of some of the more common birth injuries.

Cerebral palsy

Lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain, either before birth or during labor, can cause cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy affects motor functions, such as the ability to move and balance. It can be caused by issues with the placenta, maternal blood pressure being high, inadequate care provided to the mother, or problems during delivery.

Brachial Plexus Injuries (BPI)

BPI is caused by nerve damage to the nerves that begin in the upper spine and pass through the shoulder, neck, arm, and hand. Approximately 10% of cases cause disability that is permanent. Other cases are more minor. One mild form is neuropraxia, which stretches the nerve. Another form, neuroma, is more severe. The nerve tears and doesn’t heal adequately. In avulsion, the most severe form of BPI, the nerve roots become dislodged, causing paralysis.

Bone Fractures

A newborn baby’s bones can be fractured if a delivery is difficult or complicated. The most common broken bone during birth is the clavicle, or collar bone.


A cephalohematoma refers to blood collecting below the skull. Cephalohematomas are not necessarily dangerous, and often simply clear up with the passage of time.

Caput Succedaneum

This is a head injury that can manifest on the scalp, as swelling, bruising, or discoloration. It is caused by too much pressure during the baby’s delivery. It is not life-threatening, however frightening it may look. It will usually heal in time with no medical intervention needed.

Perinatal Asphyxia

If a newborn baby receives insufficient oxygen, perinatal asphyxia can occur. There may be a blood oxygen deficiency or inadequate blood flow to the fetus in the womb. It may be indicated by heavy or labored breathing, paleness of skin, seizures, coma, or even shock. The effects vary. In some cases, it clears up. In others, it can cause neurologic damage that is permanent.

Intracranial Hemorrhage/Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

This injury, often referred to as “brain bleeds,” involves bleeding on the inside of the skull, either between the brain and the skull or under the two innermost layers of the brain (subarachnoid hemorrhage). Causes can include traumatic labor, including complications and mistakes that caused the baby to be deprived of oxygen, improper delivery techniques, the misuse of forceps and vacuum extractors, and even the baby being unusually large.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

This type of hemorrhage occurs in the eye. It is caused by a burst blood vessel, which causes a visible, bright red spot on the eye. It can be caused by pressure to the eye or head during the birth process. Despite the visibility, it is usually not serious, and will resolve spontaneously.

Facial Paralysis

Paralysis in the face can occur if the facial nerves are damaged. The newborn may not be able to control facial muscles, which may manifest when the baby cries. Facial paralysis usually resolves with the passage of time, but some cases may be permanent.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries in newborns can cause paralysis or movement and nerve problems, just as they can in adults. They are among the most severe of birth injures. Spinal cord injuries at birth may be caused by traumatic damage, meningeal tear, or the use of forceps.

Birth Injury Lawyer Bergen County NJ 

If your baby has suffered a birth injury, we can help. Personal injury attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman have been fighting for the rights of injury for more than 40 years. We are experienced birth injury and medical malpractice lawyers in New York and New Jersey.

You may be entitled to compensation for the cost of medical treatment, hospitalization, physical therapy, long-term care, any needed adjustments to your home, and more.


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