Most Common Types of Birth Trauma February 20, 2018.

Giving birth is an exciting and awe-inspiring experience. While most births go smoothly, sometimes babies are harmed during the birth process. When they have serious injuries, parents may need to bring a birth injury lawsuit forward against the doctor, hospital, and others who may be responsible. To know whether this is necessary in your particular case, it is important to understand the most common types of birth trauma and what they can mean for your child.

Oxygen Deprivation

If the umbilical cord gets wrapped around the baby’s neck during delivery, or the placenta separates too early, oxygen deprivation may occur. Maintaining constant vigilance and acting quickly should signs of oxygen deprivation arise is the responsibility of medical personnel. Failure to discover the problem or respond in a timely manner can cause serious harm to the baby.

Brachial Plexus Injury (Erb’s Palsy)

Injuries to the brachial plexus can happen when a baby is "stuck" in the birth canal and additional force must be used to deliver the child. For example, if the doctor tugs on a baby’s arm, the nerves there may be injured. Mild injuries to the brachial plexus may heal within a few weeks or months, but permanent nerve damage may also occur from this type of injury, resulting in Erb’s palsy, a type of paralysis to the arm.

Fractures and Broken Bones

The chance of broken bones and fractures during birth exists, especially for larger babies or babies born to mothers with a narrow pelvis. Some deliveries are much more difficult than others, and when a baby is turned the wrong way or must be forcibly extracted from the birth canal, the chances of injury or trauma are higher. Depending on the location of the fracture or the break, this type of birth trauma can be very harmful. It is the responsibility of medical personnel to determine if and when birth becomes too difficult and a cesarean section would be in the best interest of both mother and child. Failure to move forward with a c-section in a timely manner can be considered negligence if a c-section would have likely prevented broken bones or other injuries.

Bell’s Palsy

This injury comes about from damage to the facial nerve during delivery. It can happen naturally from pressure as the baby’s face pushes against the vaginal wall, but it can also happen from medical professionals using forceps during the delivery process. Nerves that are simply bruised will typically heal up on their own, but if the nerve is torn, it may be necessary for the baby to have surgery to restore proper facial muscle function. In some cases, the nerve damage is too great and cannot be repaired, leaving the child with a permanent injury.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a very common birth injury that is often not attributed to the birthing process because parents may not notice symptoms of this condition until the child is older. Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the newborn’s brain during birth, often from oxygen deprivation, and can result in lifelong difficulties with motor function, hearing, vision, speech, intellectual development, and autonomic nervous system function.


When blood accumulates under the membrane that protects the baby’s skull due to a difficult delivery, it may appear as soft lumps that will grow larger in the hours after birth. Often, these accumulations of blood will resolve on their own over a few weeks or months. However, very large ones may cause a breakdown of too many red blood cells at once, which can lead to jaundice and other complications.

If your baby has sustained an injury during birth, it can be frightening to realize that there is a problem. If your child is older and you begin to notice symptoms of cerebral palsy or other conditions, they may be attributed to any issues your baby had during birth.

Don’t hesitate to contact a birth injury lawyer if your baby has a significant birth injury. At The Mellino Law Firm, we have experience working with families whose lives have been changed forever by serious birth trauma, and we can help you obtain the compensation you need for your child’s care and other damages you may have suffered. Call today for a consultation at (440) 333-3800 to discuss your case in detail.