Common Birth Injuries Every Mother Should Know

Childbirth is a beautiful time for families to celebrate a new life, but it can also be frightening and confusing. A lot can happen during childbirth. A birth injury at the start of a baby’s life can lead to developmental issues later in life.

Before your little one comes into the world, you should make yourself aware of some of the more common birth injuries in the United States. As the adage goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

On average,7 of every 1000 babies born in the US, will suffer a birth injury. If your baby happens to fall in that range, you want to know the signs. By staying up to date on the most common birth injuries, you will be able to identify any potential developmental issues as early as possible.

The causes of these common birth injuries vary greatly. Some birth complications are natural; a baby may be born wrapped up in the umbilical cord. Other birth injuries are caused by negligent medical care to the mother or by applying too much force during delivery.

The symptoms of birth injuries are as varied as the causes. Some birth injuries are minor and heal after a few days. Other birth injuries are more serious and will require long-term treatment. With that in mind, these are the most common birth injuries facing babies born in the United States.

Broken Bones and Fractures

Broken bones are the most common avoidable birth injury. They are most often the result of improper use of medical tools and birthing techniques. The most common cause of broken bones in newborns is overly forceful pulling during delivery and the use of forceps.

These birth injuries are most common for breech births (when the baby comes out bottom first). These injuries are often avoidable when exercising proper medical treatment and caesarian section (C-Section).

Thankfully, newborn fractures typically heal on their own without long-term complications. However, the baby may need a split.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy makes up roughly 1/3 of birth injuries and congenital disabilities. This disorder is a result of injury to the baby’s brain. Children may develop cerebral palsy as a result of genetics or improper medical treatment during labor and childbirth. While there are several different kinds of Cerebral Palsy, all types cause some form of uncontrolled movement, poor balance, and stiff muscles.

Parents of children with cerebral palsy are often eligible for government support and educational assistance. Children with cerebral palsy may also qualify for physical therapy and assistance with speech and motor skills.

You can learn more about Cerebral Palsy from the CDC.


The use of forceps in childbirth is much less common than it once was. However, it is still necessary in some cases, especially when the mother is too tired to continue or the baby refuses to come out. In rare cases, improper and intense use of forceps may result in damage to the baby’s spinal cord. An injury to the spinal cord may, on rare occasions, result in nerve damage or paralysis.

There are, however, degrees of paralysis. Minor facial paralysis is more likely than an injured spinal cord. Facial paralysis is often treatable and typically not permanent.

Erb’s Palsy

Erb’s Palsy, also known as brachial plexus injury, is completely different from cerebral palsy. The brachial plexus is a part of the nervous system connecting the neck and the arms. This part of the baby’s body can be damaged when the head and arms move in different directions during delivery. The resulting nerve damage causes weakness in one of the baby’s arms.

This birth injury occurs in 1 of every 1000 babies, and it impacts every child differently. Some will make a full recovery after a few months. Others may require physical therapy. If symptoms don’t improve over time, a doctor may suggest surgery. The permanence of Erb’s Palsy depends on the amount of nerve damage.

You can learn more about Erb’s Palsy from the Cerebral Palsy Guide.

What Can You Do?

By raising your awareness of the different kinds of birth injuries, you’re better equipped to identify potential developmental issues in your newborn. However, it is critical to identify birth injuries sooner than later. The state of Georgia provides families with birth injuries up to the child’s seventh birthday to file a claim.

If you suspect your little one has suffered a birth injury, you may want to seek legal representation. If you’d like an attorney to evaluate your birth injury claims, contact the Tolson Firm today or call us at (404) 800-9166.

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