Understanding Birth Injury and Its Causes

We hope you find this Nursing Home Neglect Blog Article both Helpful and Informative.

Birth injuries can be a devastating and unexpected experience for families, often leading to lifelong consequences for both the child and the parents. But what exactly are birth injuries, and what causes them? We will discuss the role of medical malpractice in causing preventable birth injuries and the legal options for affected families.

Key Takeaways

  • Birth injuries are physical or neurological damage sustained by a newborn during the birthing process, caused by errors made in labor and delivery.
  • Risk factors for birth injury include maternal health, fetal size & position, medical interventions and genetic background.
  • Families affected may seek legal justice through an experienced birth injury attorney to pursue compensation.

Defining Birth Injury

A birth injury refers to any harm or damage sustained by a newborn during the birthing process, which can range from mild to severe and may result in lifelong disabilities. A child’s birth injury, such as brain damage in newborns, can be caused by head trauma occurring during delivery, especially when the baby’s head is not positioned correctly. Situations that may lead to birth injuries include errors made during the birthing process.

Seizures and skull fractures are the immediate indicators of a birth injury. Symptoms of a birth injury typically manifest when the child fails to reach certain developmental milestones or displays physical signs of brain or nerve damage, beginning at 12 months of age or later. The birth injury prognosis depends on the type and severity of the injury.

Birth Injury Characteristics

Birth injuries can manifest in various ways such as physical trauma, neurological damage, or developmental delays, with effects that can span from temporary to permanent. Birth trauma can lead to brain damage, which may encompass conditions like hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), intracranial hemorrhage, and cerebral dysgenesis. Additionally, physical birth injuries can include fractures, such as collarbone and upper arm bone fractures, and kernicterus. Some of these injuries can be considered minor injuries, while others can have severe consequences.

The symptoms associated with birth injuries can vary depending on the type and severity of the injury, and may evolve over time. Some common birth injuries include Erb’s palsy, cerebral palsy, and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).

Birth injuries may be precipitated by risk factors such as jaundice in newborns. This condition, characterized by a yellowing of the baby’s skin and the whites of their eyes due to a buildup of bilirubin, is found in approximately 60% of newborns. Children born before 38 weeks, experiencing severe bruising at birth, having a different blood type than the mother or difficulty in breastfeeding, can be more susceptible to jaundice. This condition should be closely monitored by a doctor after delivery.

Birth Defects vs. Birth Injuries

Birth defects typically develop before birth and often result from genetic or environmental factors, while birth injuries occur during labor and delivery. Birth injury diagnosis usually involves a thorough examination of the newborn and may include tests such as blood tests, MRI or CT scans, and Apgar tests.

Maternal health conditions, as well as a family medical history which includes smoking, alcohol, and drug use during pregnancy, could lead to an increased risk of birth defects. Therefore, one should take proper precautions when expecting. Most birth injuries, on the other hand, are caused by physical forces applied during labor and delivery or medical errors made during the birthing process.

Causes and Risk Factors of Birth Injuries

A multitude of factors, including maternal health, fetal size and position, and external influences such as medical interventions, can contribute to birth injuries. The physical forces applied during labor and delivery are the most common source of birth injuries. Physicians should assess genetic background and other potential risks to facilitate the birth of a healthy infant.

Fetal size and position can significantly influence the birthing process and, if not monitored adequately, can result in birth injuries. The cause of C-section injuries is attributed to unsafe cesarean section. Medical interventions can be a contributing factor to the occurrence of birth injuries.

Maternal Factors

Age, health, and lifestyle are all potential maternal risk factors associated with birth injuries. Some specific factors include:

  • Medical conditions
  • Delivery position
  • Maternal conditions
  • Medical mismanagement of birth injuries

These maternal factors may contribute to birth injuries.

Potential factors include the size of the baby and mother, preeclampsia, and maternal obesity and diabetes, which can increase the risk of birth injury. Maternal factors can potentially increase the risk of birth injury, including medical conditions, delivery position, maternal conditions, and medical mismanagement of birth injuries. Additionally, the size of the baby and mother, preeclampsia, and maternal obesity and diabetes can also contribute to the risk of birth injury.

Fetal Factors

Fetal factors encompass characteristics of the fetus that could contribute to the occurrence of birth injuries. Factors such as size, position, and gestational age of the fetus can have an effect on the probability of birth injuries.

The fetus is considered to be in an abnormal position if it is facing forward. Abnormal presentations further include:

  • face presentations
  • brow presentations
  • chest presentations
  • shoulder presentations

Fetal factors, such as size, position, and gestational age, can contribute to the potential for birth injuries.

External Factors

The occurrence of birth injuries may be influenced by external factors such as medical interventions and delivery techniques involving the birth canal. The primary risk factors for newborn cephalohematomas, which can occur on a baby’s head, are prolonged or complicated labor and the utilization of vacuum extractors or forceps.

Spinal cord injuries in newborns during delivery typically arise when a physician exerts excessive force on the infant’s spine. Physical injuries are commonly associated with the use of forceps or vacuum extractors during childbirth. These instruments can put enormous strain on the mother and her baby, leading to serious health risks and complications.

Medical Malpractice and Birth Injuries

Preventable birth injuries can occur as a result of medical malpractice. Medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, and midwives can be held accountable for their negligent care, which can result in injuries to newborns.

Medical negligence associated with childbirth includes failure to properly monitor fetal distress, improper use of delivery instruments, and failure to perform a timely c-section.

An experienced birth injury attorney can assist families in pursuing legal justice and holding the hospital responsible for their careless conduct.

Identifying Medical Negligence

Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare professional falls short of providing a standard of care that aligns with accepted medical standards during childbirth. The standard of care is the level of care that a reasonable healthcare professional would be expected to provide in a similar situation.

The procedure for identifying medical negligence entails:

  • Ascertaining whether the healthcare professional did not adhere to the standard of care.
  • Examining medical records.
  • Conversing with witnesses.
  • Consulting with medical specialists.

Examples of medical negligence include failing to diagnose a birth injury, failing to provide timely medical care, and failing to adequately monitor the mother and baby during labor and delivery.

Legal Options for Affected Families

Families impacted by birth injuries as a consequence of medical negligence have the right to seek legal action for compensation covering medical expenses, ongoing care, and emotional distress. If you believe your child’s birth injury was due to medical negligence, you may have the option to initiate a birth injury lawsuit and hold the responsible health care professionals accountable.

If parents believe their child’s spinal cord injury was caused by negligent care, they should consult our birth injury attorneys to explore their legal options.

Common Types of Birth Injuries

Cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) are among the common types of birth injuries, each presenting distinct symptoms and long-term effects on the child.

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that impairs movement, posture, and coordination and is caused by damage to the brain before, during, or after birth.

Erb’s palsy is a type of brachial plexus injury, also known as brachial plexus birth palsy, that affects the nerves in the shoulder and arm and is caused by excessive stretching of the nerves during delivery, leading to impaired shoulder and arm function.

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a type of brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain and can occur during labor and delivery as a result of various circumstances.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder caused by brain damage during birth, affecting muscle control and coordination. The likely causes of cerebral palsy can differ, however the common symptoms usually include difficulty with movement, coordination, and posture.

Children with cerebral palsy may be at risk for developing autism or epilepsy. Cerebral palsy has an effect on muscle control and can result in speech and developmental delays.

Erb’s Palsy

Erb’s palsy is a nerve injury that results in weakness or paralysis of the arm, often caused by difficult deliveries. It is caused by trauma to the brachial plexus nerves, which can be either severe or mild, during delivery. The brachial plexus nerves play an important role in controlling feeling and movement. They serve as a bridge between the spinal cord and the arms.

Erb’s palsy is typically identified during postnatal examinations conducted in a hospital setting. The medical personnel will monitor the infant and assess any progress in regards to motor activity and capability over time. It is estimated that 1 in 1000 babies are born with Erb’s palsy.

Surgery, occupational therapy, and physical therapy are potential treatment options for Erb’s palsy.

Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) occurs when a baby’s brain is deprived of oxygen during birth, potentially leading to developmental delays and cognitive impairments. HIE can be attributed to a deficiency in oxygen and blood flow during delivery. Babies can have different kinds of difficulty, including:

  • Seizures
  • Feeding problems
  • Hearing problems
  • Vision problems

These issues can be very hard to manage.

Other children may not experience any long-term health issues. They could recover after necessary medical attention and treatment. Various treatments can be employed to manage the symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life. The severity of the injury may be a contributing factor to the development of HIE in a child.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Birth Injuries

The process of diagnosing and treating birth injuries entails a variety of tests and interventions, customized based on the specific type of injury and its severity. Some common tests and interventions used to diagnose birth injuries include:

  • Blood tests
  • MRI or CT scans
  • Apgar tests
  • Umbilical cord blood gas analysis
  • Neuroimaging tests

These tests help healthcare professionals accurately diagnose birth injuries and determine the appropriate treatment plan.

Therapy, nutrition plans, exercises, adaptive equipment, medications, and specialized treatments may be employed to treat birth injuries.

Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostic tests, such as imaging and neurological assessments, can help identify the extent and nature of a birth injury. Some of the tests used to diagnose birth injuries include:

  • Blood tests
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
  • EEG (Electroencephalogram)
  • Ultrasonography
  • Apgar Score

MRI is a diagnostic imaging technique that utilizes radio waves and a powerful magnetic field to generate comprehensive images of the body. EEG is a medical test that records the electrical activity of the brain.

Ultrasonography is a type of imaging test that utilizes sound waves to generate images of the body, while Apgar Score is a test utilized to evaluate the wellbeing of a newborn baby.

Treatment Options

Depending on the child’s requirements and the severity of the injury, treatment options for birth injuries might encompass:

  • Therapy
  • Medication
  • Surgery
  • Usage of assistive devices

Brain bleeds, seizures, and blood clots may necessitate surgical intervention. Unfortunately, spine damage cannot be reversed. However, timely treatment can help prevent the damage from aggravating.

Burr hole surgery may be utilized for infant hematomas. Assistive devices for children with birth injuries include crutches, wheelchairs, leg braces, breathing support, and catheters.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are common birth injuries?

Common birth injuries include brachial palsy, bruising or forceps marks, caput succedaneum, cephalohematoma, facial paralysis, fractures, and subconjunctival hemorrhage.

What is the most common newborn birth injury?

Head and brain injuries are the most common newborn birth injury, occurring as a result of the pressure placed on the head during delivery.

Molding of the head is a normal change in shape, not an injury.

What is the meaning of birth injury?

Birth injury is defined as an impairment of the neonate’s body function or structure caused by an adverse event that occurred at birth. It can range from minor to major injuries due to various mechanical forces experienced during labor and delivery, with the newborn baby being the most affected.

Is a birth injury the same as a birth trauma?

Birth injury and birth trauma are often used interchangeably, and refer to a wide range of injuries that can occur during the birthing process.

injuries can range from minor bruising to more serious conditions such as cerebral palsy or Erb’s palsy. In some cases, the injury may be caused by medical negligence or a lack of proper care during the birthing process.

What is the difference between a birth defect and a birth injury?

Birth defects are present before birth due to genetic or environmental factors, whereas birth injuries occur during labor and delivery.



Call 407.612.6464863.324.3500 today to speak with an experienced Birth Injury Lawyer who proudly serves Lakeland, Orlando, and throughout the State of Florida.

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Sanga Turnbull

Sanga Turnbull is the founder and principal attorney at The Turnbull Law Firm, a Florida law firm helping personal injury victims in Winter Haven and Orlando recover compensation for harm done to them by the negligence of others. The comprehensive personal injury practice at The Turnbull Firm includes all manner of motor vehicle accidents, nursing home neglect and abuse, slip and fall, workplace and industrial accidents, medical malpractice, catastrophic injury, wrongful death, and more. Injury victims or their families are invited to call The Turnbull Firm for a no-cost, confidential consultation about any potential claims they may have.