What Are Some Of The Common Types Of Birth Injuries?

What Are Some Of The Common Types Of Birth Injuries?

A birth injury results from an adverse event that occurred during the birthing process. The injury may lead to either transient or permanent impairment of a child’s normal physiological or anatomical functioning. It may range from severe to minor impairments in function.

There are many factors involved in why a birth injury occurs. It can happen for a biological reason, or some birth injuries also result from the actions or inactions of the medical practitioner, in which case it is labeled as medical malpractice, and you can go for a lawsuit.

Some common types of birth injuries are below. So, without further ado, let us get straight to the topic.

Common Type of Birth Injuries

Erb’s Palsy

Erb’s palsy is characterized by weakness of the upper limb, particularly the shoulder and elbow. It occurs when there is significant damage to the group of nerves, referred to as the brachial plexus. 

This vast network of nerves controls the normal function of the neck, arm, and shoulders. However, during the process of birth, excessive physical forces that are applied, particularly while pulling the baby, can cause damage to the nerves. 

Most often, medical malpractice can cause this common birth injury. Suppose you have undergone a violent birth experience that caused Erb’s palsy in your children. 

In that case, you can file a lawsuit for medical malpractice for Erb palsy, which would help you get justice and provide you with adequate financial compensation.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy occurs either due to abnormalities in the normal brain development or damage to the brain during labor.

Inadequate monitoring of the mother during the birth process, lack of technique, and failure to timely detect fetal distress can result in insufficient oxygen supply to the child’s brain, causing brain damage and cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy results in a deficiency in motor skills development and causes severe muscular spasms. It can also result in alterations in the sense of vision, hearing, and speech, along with learning difficulties.

It cannot be cured. However, if detected earlier in its course, many treatment modalities exist to improve quality of life. Children who have cerebral palsy typically require long-term therapy involving a multidisciplinary approach.

The injury can be avoided if adequate medical care is given to the mother and the baby.


Cephalohematoma is the blood that accumulates in the middle of a newborn’s scalp and skull. It causes a bump in the child’s head.

The common cause of cephalohematoma is using instruments during delivery, such as forceps or a vacuum. Cephalohematoma is one of the most common types of birth injury, occurring in up to 2.5% of deliveries. 

It usually requires no treatment and resolves on its own in 2 weeks to 3 months. However, it makes children more susceptible to infections such as meningitis and jaundice. Additionally, it may increase a child’s risk of developing anemia or hypotension. 

Long-term complications of cephalhematoma are osteomyelitis, permanent deformities of the skull, or formation of calcifications. 

Facial Nerve Injury

A traumatic birth process can subject a child’s face to extreme pressure, resulting in damage to the facial nerve. It is one of the most common cranial nerve injuries during birth, with an incidence of 10 per 1000 live births.

Damage to the facial nerve can also occur due to the use of instruments, such as forceps or through the maternal bony prominences, which may exert pressure on the face of the child during its descent from the maternal birth canal.

Clinically, a child with facial nerve injury has weakened facial movement. In some cases, the baby may also be unable to close the eye. The condition resolves spontaneously a few weeks after birth without any complications.

Perinatal asphyxia

Perinatal asphyxia is characterized as poor blood flow to the newborn baby’s tissues and vital organs, either before, during, or right after birth.

The lack of oxygen in the blood may be secondary to numerous conditions. It may include the premature separation of the placenta from the uterus before delivery, obstruction of blood flow through the umbilical cord, or fetal genetic abnormality.

In some instances, the cause of perinatal asphyxia remains undetermined. A newborn baby suffering from perinatal asphyxia presents with extreme paleness and is generally lifeless at birth. They either breathe very slowly or cannot breathe at all.

Newborn babies who have suffered from perinatal asphyxia have a prolonged heart rate and often need to be revived at birth through invasive ventilation using an endotracheal tube.

In cases where asphyxia occurs due to severe blood loss, the baby could be in shock. In such cases, immediate lifesaving measures include the administration of fluids or blood transfusion. Perinatal asphyxia can cause damage to multiple organs, including the brain, lungs, heart, or liver.

Newborns who survive perinatal asphyxia may either have a mild brain injury or may be completely normal. There may be signs of permanent brain damage in some instances, which causes learning difficulties or severe muscular weaknesses. Some babies who suffer from significant brain damage do not survive.


A birth injury in a child can occur due to a biological reason or due to medical malpractice. Some of them are not life-threatening, while on the other hand, some are life-threatening with no cure.

The treatment, resolution, and progression of the damage acquired at birth depend entirely on the type and severity of the injury sustained.

In some cases, birth injuries can be avoided. This can be done by the timely involvement of multiple specialties for the patient’s case when the risk of injury is suspected.

With the advancement in medical technology, different radiological investigations and scans can now alert healthcare professionals about children who may be at risk of trauma at birth. This allows the healthcare team to be aware of the threat and anticipate what is to come, preparing for possible complications.

In cases where a birth trauma has occurred, and medical malpractice is suspected, consulting an attorney to determine the cause of the injury can prove worthwhile, and the mother might get compensation for her child’s care.

Hope this article is of help and you got a gist of some of the common birth injuries and their causes.

John Norwood
John Norwood is best known as a technology journalist, currently at Ziddu where he focuses on tech startups, companies, and products.