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A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Eight Possible Birth Injuries

birth injuriesBirth injuries can be attributed to a wide range of underlying causes. Factors may include anything from genetics and maternal health to poor prenatal care or medical error during delivery. Complications vary depending on the nature of the injury and the use of early medical intervention.

Eight Most Common Birth Injuries Include: Cerebral Palsy and Facial Paralysis

In some cases, cerebral palsy is attributed to injury or trauma to a child’s brain. This most typically occurs during fetal development (prior to birth). This disorder affects a child’s movement and muscle tone.

Symptoms may manifest anywhere from infancy to when the child is four to five years old. Complications may include involuntary or impaired movements, difficultly walking and exaggerated reflexes. More severe cases may be accompanied by blindness, deafness or seizures.


Injuries to a baby’s facial nerve may result in partial or full paralysis of the face. This may even make it difficult for the baby to fully close one or both eyes. This injury may occur when a doctor exerts too much force in the use of forceps during delivery. Minor injuries may self-resolve, though more severe cases may necessitate surgery.

Fractures, Brachial Palsy, Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

A baby may sustain a fracture of the clavicle, collarbone or other bones during a difficult or prolonged labor or delivery.

Brachial palsy, like Erb’s palsy, is the result of an injury to the nerves in a baby’s shoulder. It most typically is associated with shoulder dystocia, a condition that arises when a baby’s shoulders cannot easily pass through the birth canal. This nerve injury may result in a loss of muscle control and strength in the affected arm, hand and shoulder.

This eye injury is the result of fluctuations in pressure during the course of labor and delivery. The injury is identified as a red area on the baby’s eye – a result of a burst blood vessel – and typically self-resolves.


Cephalohematoma, Brain Damage, and Kernicterus

Cephalohematoma is the result of blood pooling under the skin’s surface on the skull. It may occur with the use of vacuum extraction and may put a baby at risk for jaundice if not properly cared for.

Brain trauma may be attributed to the use of forceps or vacuum extraction, as well as other labor and delivery errors, such as failure to monitor fetal oxygen and heart rates. Long-term implications depend on the severity of the injury. Severe cases may result in fetal death.

This brain injury is caused by a severe case of jaundice. Symptoms include difficulty staying awake, seemingly no muscle tone and an arching back of the head and/or neck. Emergency treatment is needed at the first signs of kernicterus.

Take advantage of our firm’s free case evaluations if you suspect your child was the victim of medical negligence or malpractice. Call the Preszler Law Firm at 1-800-JUSTICE® to learn more in a free case evaluation.