The 10 Most Common Birth Injuries

In California, most families are lucky enough to see their child born safely and without any injuries or health complications. However, even with the generally high quality of medical care in the state, things can and do go wrong. Even in 2021, nearly one percent of all births (7 out of every 1,000) result in the infant being injured. Unfortunately, many of those injuries are the result of medical malpractice.

At the Law Offices of Michael Oran, A.P.C., we have built our reputation and career exclusively representing victims of medical malpractice. With a registered nurse on staff, and deep knowledge of physiology and anatomy, Michael Oran is uniquely positioned to dissect medical reports, understand and identify the cause of birth injuries, estimate the lifelong ramifications of the injury, and successfully bring resolution, compensation, and compassion.

No other law firm can compare.

What Are the Most Common Birth Injuries?

The birthing process can be dangerous and unpredictable. There are myriad ways in which a careless act at the wrong time can result in an injury that can affect a newborn for the rest of their life. Some of the most common include:

Broken or Fractured Bones

Even the best labor is a trauma: squeezing your baby’s fragile, cartilaginous bones. In the hands of a distracted or poorly trained medical professional, birth-assistance tools like forceps can cause your child to suffer fractured or broken bones.

Injured Spinal Cords

Improper use of tools like forceps can lead to a spinal cord injury in newborns. Damage to the spinal cord can cause lifelong paralysis and neurological problems.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is the most common birth defect in U.S. children according to the CDC. The condition can be the result of a birth that is poorly monitored, or medical professionals use unsafe or improper techniques during the delivery. The condition leads to lifelong problems with muscle spasms and weakness as well as delayed motor development.

Facial Paralysis

Many nerves that help control the face can be damaged during birth if a doctor or nurse uses excessive pressure in the labor process. This can lead to temporary or permanent paralysis of the face, making it hard for your child to open their eyes, speak, or even smile.

Erb’s Palsy and Brachial Palsy

When doctors cause trauma to the nerves of the neck, shoulders and arms of your infant, it can cause Erb’s palsy. Children with this condition will struggle to move their arms and shoulders and lack normal reflexes. The condition, also known as brachial palsy, is most often caused by a medical provider pulling on your child’s arms as they are born or struggling with their shoulders. Perinatal Asphyxia

Babies need oxygen very quickly during and after the birth process. If they don’t get enough oxygen, they may suffer perinatal asphyxia. This can lead to everything from a pale complexion after birth to seizures into later life. The condition is often the result of doctors failing to monitor your baby for fetal distress during the delivery. The true damage may not be visible to the untrained eye for years, so it’s vital to have a genuine medical malpractice attorney to help you identify the condition and root cause in order to get the compensation you need for your child.


The delivery process involves a lot of pressure on your baby’s skull, which is also softer than an adult’s head. Cephalohematoma, or cranial hematoma, results from damage to an infant’s cranium and is often due to the carelessness of an attending medical professional.  Cephalohematoma can cause jaundice or anemia, as well as a permanent lump on your child’s head.

Caput Succedaneum

Doctors who misuse vacuum extraction tools can cause your child significant pain through a condition known as caput succedaneum. This condition is the swelling of the soft tissues on top of a baby’s head. When used incorrectly, the vacuum tool can pull too many fluids to the area and create a significant bruise and swelling in the head and face.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

Another injury caused by excessive pressure is a subconjunctival hemorrhage, or broken blood vessels in the eyes. This condition leads to red bands in the whites of your baby’s eyes, and serious cases can actually damage your child’s eyesight for life.

Oxygen Deprivation
Oxygen deprivation during delivery can lead to brain injuries. In turn, these brain injuries can cause cerebral palsy or chronic seizures. Failure on the part of the doctor or other medical professional to monitor the infant during and after birth, or to remove the newborn from the birth canal in a timely fashion, brain injuries may result. The consequences of oxygen deprivation can be both permanent physical and mental impairment.

Most Common Causes of Birth Injuries

Because most births occur in hospitals or otherwise under medical supervision, many birth injuries result from medical negligence. In California, medical negligence is any negligent act or omission where the medical professional caused an injury or death while performing their normal scope of services. This means that causing your infant reasonably avoidable harm is likely to be an act of medical negligence.

Just a few common types of medical negligence that lead to birth injuries include:

  • Incorrect Use of Birthing Tools: In deliveries where the mother is struggling, doctors may use forceps or vacuum implements to speed the process or reposition the child. If these tools are used correctly, they can help reduce stress on both the mother and child. However, when used incorrectly or negligently, they can lead to anything from nerve damage to cerebral palsy in the child and potentially severe injuries for the mother. Identifying what injuries were inevitable and which were avoidable take the eye of a trained medical malpractice attorney.
  • Improper Timing of a Caesarian Section: Caesarian sections, or C-sections, can be vital if a child is struggling or in distress during the delivery. However, doctors may order unnecessary C-sections or delay C-sections too long. Unnecessary C-sections can cause the mother lifelong health problems due to the surgery. Meanwhile, C-sections that are delayed too long can lead to placental abruptions, uterine ruptures, and even death for both the mother and the child. Both are types of medical negligence.
  • Hypoxia: If your baby doesn’t receive enough oxygen to their bloodstream, they can suffer from hypoxia. This can cause lifelong mental and physical disabilities for the child. OB/GYN medical professionals are trained to notice hypoxia, and failing to notice the symptoms of hypoxia is a common type of medical negligence.

If Your Child Was Injured at Birth, You Need a Birth Injury Attorney

The day of your child’s birth is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life. If your baby is injured in the process, however, it can become one of the worst.

A genuine medical malpractice attorney can help you identify the treatment your baby needs and the real amount of damage done, and fight for the full settlement you need to give your child the best chance at a healthy life.

If you believe that any medical professional injured your child during the birthing process, contact a highly experienced California birth injury attorney from the Law Offices of Michael Oran, A.P.C. today. Call (213) 454-0002 or reach out send a message online to schedule your free consultation.