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Understanding common birth injuries in newborns

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2024 | Medical Malpractice

Childbirth is a momentous occasion filled with anticipation and joy, but it also comes with its share of risks and challenges. Despite advances in medical science and prenatal care, birth injuries still occur and can have lasting effects on a newborn’s health and development. These injuries can result from a variety of factors, including the baby’s position during birth, the size of the baby and the birth canal and the use of medical devices during delivery.

Knowing the most common types of birth injuries can help parents understand the risks and seek appropriate care and treatment for their newborns.

Brachial plexus injuries

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that controls the muscles in the shoulders, arms and hands. During childbirth, these nerves can become damaged if the baby’s shoulder gets stuck or if there is excessive pulling on the baby’s head and neck. This can lead to weakness or paralysis in the affected arm, known as Erb’s palsy.


Fractures, particularly of the collarbone or clavicle, are among the most common birth injuries. They can occur during difficult deliveries or when there is a need to use forceps or vacuum extraction. These fractures usually heal well with time and proper care.


Cephalohematoma is a condition where blood accumulates between a newborn’s skull bone and its fibrous covering. It often results from birth trauma and appears as a raised bump on the baby’s head. While it typically resolves itself within a few weeks, it is important to monitor for any signs of jaundice, as the breakdown of the collected blood can lead to this condition.

Perinatal asphyxia

Perinatal asphyxia occurs when the baby does not receive enough oxygen before, during or immediately after birth. This can lead to various complications, including neurological and respiratory issues. Immediate medical intervention is critical to address any oxygen deprivation.

While not all birth injuries are preventable, understanding what to watch for can better help ensure the health and well-being of both mother and child.


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