What Are The Most Common Birth Injuries?

The birth of a human being is a complicated process involving three separate physically trying stages. This fact means that there are many ways that things can go wrong. Some of the more common ways an infant can be injured during birth are:

Head Injuries

Head injuries during birth can range from very minor such as head molding, in which the soft bones of the head are shaped by passage through the birth canal, to fractures and hemorrhages, which can have profoundly grave consequences. A common but slight injury is scalp scratches that generally heal within a day or two. However, bleeding inside or outside of the skull bones can lead to accumulations of blood around the membranes surrounding the brain and can have serious complications. Among the more serious bleeding injuries are the subgaleal hemorrhages caused by the use of forceps or a blood clotting problem. 

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a group of physical problems that affect moving and maintaining balance and posture. It is the most common motor disability in childhood and is generally the result of a birth accident. There are four types of cerebral palsy:

  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy – Victims have increased muscle tone leading to stiff muscles and awkward movements. It can affect various parts of the body, only one side of the body, or in spastic quadriplegia/quadriparesis, affect virtually the entire body, and be accompanied by severe developmental disorders. 
  • Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy – Victims have problems controlling the movement of the extremities, making it difficult to sit and walk. Sometimes the face is affected, causing problems with speech and swallowing. 
  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – Victims have problems with balance and coordination, rapid movements, or those requiring a lot of control. 
  • Mixed Cerebral Palsy – A mix of symptoms. The most common mixed type is spastic/dyskinetic CP. 

Facial Paralysis

Facial nerve palsy due to birth injury is a loss of voluntary muscle movement in an infant’s face because of pressure applied to the facial nerve (seventh cranial nerve) just before or at the time of birth. Its cause is often unknown, but it can be the result of a difficult delivery. Some factors that may increase the likelihood of facial paralysis are

  • Large baby size, especially when the mother has diabetes
  • Extended pregnancy or labor
  • Use of medicine to induce or strengthen labor
  • Use of epidural

Oxygen Deprivation

Oxygen deprivation during birth or labor is one of the most common complications of childbirth. It can result in Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), which affects about 3 in 1000 newborns. It can cause various disabilities, brain damage, and even death. 

Fractured Collarbones

Clavicle fractures occur in the newborn as a result of complicated deliveries. They are the most common injury sustained by newborns during birth and can result from the newborn’s large size, the shoulder becoming lodged in the birth canal, a narrow birth canal, or the use of forceps. They tend to heal quickly without complications. However, the injury may result in permanent loss of function in the arm due to nerve damage. 

Perinatal Asphyxia

Perinatal asphyxia is the loss of blood flow or gas exchange to or from a fetus in the period immediately before, during, or after the birth process. It can cause profoundly severe systemic and neurological consequences. It occurs in about 2 of every 1000 births. 

Contact a Greenville Birth Injury Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one is the victim of a birth injury and are trying to deal with its long-term consequences, an experienced and knowledgeable birth injury lawyer can help you recover the compensation needed to bring your child to a better life. Contact us today or call us at 864-432-1747 for a free initial consultation and case evaluation. 


How is a birth injury different from a birth defect?

A. A birth defect or congenital disability is usually caused by genetics, whereas a birth injury is caused by negligence by a medical professional during the birth process.

Are all birth injuries severe?

A. No, there are some injuries like scratches and head molding that will heal quickly and likely have no impact on your child’s life. Others, however, can create profound motor and cognitive defects that hugely impact the lifestyle available to your child.

How common are birth injuries?

Approximately 1 in every 9,714 people in the United States are born with a birth injury each year. Two-thirds of the injuries occur to boys. 

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