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How Do Birth Injuries Occur?

woman giving birth

Anytime a baby suffers from injuries before, during, or immediately after labor, it is considered a birth injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 7 of every 1,000 babies are born with injuries caused by the birthing process. Babies often suffer from minor injuries and heal independently after a few weeks, so they don't require treatment. However, not all birth injuries are self-healing and can lead to many more complications or even leave your child facing a disability for the entirety of their life.

What Causes Birth Injuries?

Birth injuries can be caused by several factors, each leaving the child facing different types of damage. Some of the most common causes include:

Oxygen Deprivation

Oxygen deprivation during labor is likely to cause the baby to suffer from birth injuries. This is typically a result of underdeveloped lungs (in premature babies), or a prolapsed umbilical cord. Birth injuries that are caused by oxygen deprivation are most likely to cause brain-related injuries.

Medical Malpractice

A doctor's negligence is also a common cause of birth injuries in babies. If the doctor fails to monitor the mother properly, they may miss symptoms of low oxygen flow to the baby's brain, causing them to develop birth injuries. Improper use of equipment such as forceps or vacuums for extraction, along with excessive force during delivery, is another way medical malpractice could cause birth injuries in a child.

Delayed Birth

Delayed birth is another very common cause of birth injuries in infants. When labor lasts more than 18 hours, it is considered to be delayed and can potentially be harmful to the baby. As delivery continues to be prolonged, the pressure becomes too much on the infant's brain, leading to fetal distress and high blood pressure. When complications arise, the baby is at risk of experiencing strokes and other cardiovascular issues.

Types of Birth Injuries

Forcep Marks or Bruising

During birth, the trauma of passing through the birth canal can sometimes harm the baby and leave them with signs of bruising on the head or their face. When forceps are used to help deliver the baby, it's common to see temporary marks on their face and head. Babies who require vacuum extraction during delivery may suffer scalp bruising or lacerations.

Brachial Palsy

Brachial Palsy is most commonly seen when the nerves that supply the arms and hands (also known as the brachial plexus) are injured. This typically occurs when there is trouble when delivering the shoulder, leaving them with the lost ability to flex and rotate their arms. Movement should return within a few months, depending on how severe the damage is.


Fractures in the collarbone or clavicle are common during labor and delivery. When a baby is breached or has trouble being delivered, the clavicle is at risk of fracturing. Luckily, because the baby is so young, healing happens pretty quickly, as a new bone forming a lump on the clavicle develops within the first ten days. Limiting movement is often recommended to help reduce the pain the child may feel.

Facial Paralysis

Pressure from delivery may injure the baby's facial nerves resulting in paralysis. This often occurs when forceps are used during delivery. Symptoms of this injury are typically seen when the baby cries and there is no movement on the injured side of the face. Depending on the injury's severity, movement may improve within weeks, but surgery may be required for more serious cases.

Contact an Attorney

Dealing with birth injuries right after having your baby can be challenging and emotional. If you or someone you know has experienced a childbirth that resulted in injuries, contacting a lawyer can be beneficial as you may be owed financial compensation. Here at Simonson Goodman Platzer PC, we have years of experience fighting cases like yours. You don't have to feel alone. We are here to help.

Contact us today at (800) 817-5029 to schedule your free consultation with one of your award-winning attorneys.