What is a birth injury?

Birth injury is defined as damage to a newborn’s body function or structure that occurs due to an adverse event during labor. In the vast majority of births, the baby experiences no significant injury during labor; however, harm can and does occur in a small number of cases. In many cases, these injuries have lifelong effects for the child.

Unfortunately, a significant proportion of birth injuries occur because of wrongdoing or negligence on the part of the doctor.

The most common birth injuries include:

  • Brachial plexus injury (Erb’s palsy) – A nerve injury that can impair use of the arm, often caused by shoulder dystocia
  • Birth asphyxia – Lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain and body, which may have long-lasting effects on cognition
  • Cerebral palsy – A condition that typically manifests as impaired muscle coordination, often caused by brain damage during birth
  • Cephalohematoma – A hemorrhage on the baby’s head
  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) – A condition in which the baby’s circulation does not make necessary changes after birth, leading to high pulmonary blood pressure and other abnormalities
  • Death – The most severe and tragic outcome, the loss of a newborn’s life does occur in a small number of birth injury cases

More Birth Injury FAQs

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