How Do Birth Injuries Occur?

By Greg Kohn

Birth injuries are heartbreaking for parents. Everything may have gone well with the pregnancy, but without warning, their precious new baby may have sustained an injury during birth. Birth injuries occur for a variety of reasons. In some cases, the infant may suffer an injury for no other reason than the physical trauma of being born. In other cases, a mistake is made during the birthing process that results in an injury. Identifying the cause of birth injuries can be a difficult process, but a medical malpractice attorney can help.

Common Causes of Birth Injuries

Some of the common reasons why a baby is injured during the birthing process include:

  • Prematurity can increase the risk of some birth injuries because the infant’s body is more fragile because it is not developed fully.
  • Large babies can also have difficulty being born resulting in prolonged labor or difficulty passing through the birth canal.
  • Breech position and other abnormal birthing presentations can result in birth injuries.
  • The shape and size of the mother’s pelvis may make it more difficult for the baby to pass through the birth canal causing injuries.
  • The use of forceps may cause birth injuries, including scarring and disfigurement.
  • Failing to recognize that the mother or the infant is in distress.
  • Blatant negligence or misconduct by the physician, nurses, or birthing facility.
  • Giving the mother or the infant the wrong medication or the incorrect dosage of medication.
  • Failing to notice that the umbilical cord is wrapped around the infant’s neck or other body parts.
  • Failing to detect, monitor, and treat maternal infections.
  • Prolapsed umbilical cord.
  • Failing to plan for and carry out a C-section, if necessary, to protect the mother or the infant.
  • RH incompatibility.
  • Misuse of delivery instruments.

Identifying the cause of the birth injury is important if you are seeking to hold the responsible party liable for damages. You may need to work with a medical professional who can diagnose the birth injury and help you determine the cause. A legal professional can help you with a legal cause of action to hold the negligent party or parties responsible for your child’s injuries.

What Are Some of the Common Types of Birth Injuries?

There are many different types of birth injuries. However, some birth injuries occur at a higher rate than other birth injuries. Common birth injuries include:

  • Fractures and broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Brain damage
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Injuries that result from a lack of oxygen, including perinatal asphyxia, hypoxia, anoxia, birth asphyxia, and Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Paralysis
  • Clavicle fractures
  • Kernicterus (untreated jaundice)
  • Skull fractures or cephalohematoma
  • Brachial Plexus
  • Erb’s Palsy
  • Shoulder Dystocia
  • Klumpke’s Palsy
  • Skull fractures in bleeding in the brain

The above list is not an exhaustive list of birth injuries. 

What Should You Do If You Believe Your Child Suffered a Birth Injury?

If you suspect your child was injured during birth, obtain medical attention for your child immediately. Prompt medical attention for birth injuries can reduce the risk of permanent impairment and disabilities. If you want to pursue legal action, you will need professional assistance to determine if the injury was caused by negligence or other wrongdoing. Contact our team at Nagel Rice, LLP today to discuss your options for pursuing a birth injury claim.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.