Standing Up For You

A close look at birth injuries to babies

Birth injuries happen to both mothers and newborns. When it comes to babies, most arrive in a healthy state and have no significant injuries.

For a variety of reasons, however, some newborns have injuries related to the birth process; occasionally these injuries result from errors from medical professionals or medical equipment.

Common birth injuries

Stanford Children’s Health defines a birth injury as an injury associated with the birth process. Some people call it birth trauma. A birth injury differs from a birth defect in that the injury resulted from something that happened during the delivery process.

Birth injuries can result in relatively minor concerns or quite significant problems. Common injuries that occur during delivery include the following issues:

  • Bruising or swelling of the head
  • Bleeding in the proximity of cranial bones
  • Fracturing of smaller bones such as the collarbone
  • Rupturing of blood vessels around the eyes
  • Damaging of nerves in the face, arm and hands

Other injuries can also occur during the birth process. The number of birth injuries in the U.S. each year remains unclear.

Likely causes of birth injuries

A birth injury becomes more likely under certain conditions. These conditions can arise through natural factors or they can involve specific delivery choices. For example, birth injuries become more common when the birth comes before a full-term pregnancy. Several other factors influence the potential of an injury to the newborn:

  • The baby presents in a breached position
  • The labor includes complicating factors such as long duration
  • The delivery is by the cesarean method
  • The delivery requires the help of devices such as forceps

In some cases, medical errors could contribute to a birth injury. These three birth injuries could result from medical malpractice.