6 Types of Birth Injuries and What Causes Them

posted by Chris Valentine

Witnessing the birth of a child is a magical experience and one that goes beyond description. However, it is not an event that is without risk.

In fact, around 28,000 babies born every year suffer an injury during the process. This covers a range of different injuries and severities but does highlight the danger that is inherent when delivering a child.

As an expecting parent, there are a lot of things that are going to be bouncing through your mind. A flood of emotions and nerves, worries and excitement. A dizzying mix that can leave you feeling lost.

What is important to understand is that yes, injuries can occur during birth. The odds are going to be stacked strongly in your favor in this regard, but nonetheless, sometimes things do happen.

Let’s take a quick look now at the most common types of birth injuries and what you can do should the worst happen.

1. Infections

As soon as a child is introduced to the world, they coming into contact with bacteria and viruses. A newborn infant has a very low level of immunity and contact with any bacteria could lead to an infection. This can even come from the birth canal itself.

It’s unlikely you will need to contact any birth injury lawyers for an infection but if you feel that there is more going on, a consultation will never hurt.

2. Cranial Trauma

Another common childbirth injury is cranial trauma. This is more prevalent in labors that require the use of additional tools such as forceps.

If the doctor does not use either the forceps or the ventouse correctly, it is very easy to hurt the baby and even cause damage to the brain. All doctors are highly trained for any situation that may arise during delivery, and but infants are very fragile and even a small slip can have long-lasting consequences.

There are of course other factors that play a role in cranial injuries including the size of the baby and the intensity of the delivery. A baby’s skull is very fragile and even a small mishap can have far-reaching implications.

3. Clavicle Fractures

When looking at a list of common birth injuries, clavicle fractures or shoulder dystocia are going to be found there.

While an injury they are more the common result of a complication where the baby’s head has crowned by the shoulder gets stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone.

Given all of the nerves and blood vessels that flow through the shoulder joint and into the arms, the risk of complications following such a situation is high.

While there is a risk, in extreme cases that this condition could cause hypoxia and even death, the majority of instances result in minor injuries that heal without further complications.

4. Meconium Aspiration

Nobody likes to talk about poop, but when you are looking at causes of birth injuries you cannot skip it.

Meconium aspiration is when, during labor, the baby inhales some of its poop and amniotic fluid. This often comes after the baby is subject to heightened stress and starts taking deeper, gasping breaths.

Once the meconium enters their lungs it can cause blockages and partial collapses.

This condition can occur at any time during and even after birth. If correct action is not taken then the baby can suffer severe complications.

5. Obstetric Brachial Plexus 

Following on from the shoulder dystocia mentioned above, follow on injuries related to this are called Obstetric Brachial Plexus Injury (BPI).

This relates specifically to damage to the nerves in the baby’s neck. Commonly this sort of birth injury results in loss of movement or sensation in certain limbs.

Full paralysis of the arm as a result of a BPI is called Erb’s Palsy. Luckily this condition is more often than not short-lived and will resolve itself in a given period of time. Of course, not taking the appropriate course of action can increase the risk of long term consequences, and can form the basis of a solid birth injury lawsuit.

6. Hypoxia/Apoxia

Oxygen is vital, to all of us, but especially so to newborns. Fluctuations in oxygen levels however minor can indicate to the medical staff all manner of issues that could be forthcoming. Prompt action is then required.

However, there will be times when nature does what nature does and the elements work against you.


When the baby falls victim to a reduced level of oxygen they said to be suffering from hypoxia. It is vital to take action at this stage. Failing to do so can result in many different conditions including long-lasting brain injuries.


If preventative action is not taken, and the baby is fully deprived of oxygen for a period of time, then they have entered Apoxia. This is a condition that is more severe than Hypoxia and carries higher risks with harsher repercussions for the child and the families involved.

There is a Vast Range in the Types of Birth Injuries

There is nothing in life that does not come with risk, and while you cannot allow the thoughts of the different types of birth injuries to play around in your mind, you must, at the same time, be prepared for any eventuality.

Individual circumstances will always change, and severity will play a part in each instance, but it is important to understand that regardless of what happens, you are not going to be alone.

There are people that can help, with everything from care to prosecution. If you or your child have suffered an injury during labor then make sure you find out what your options are.

Feel free to check out some of our other posts for more information on everything from family wellness to lifestyle, health and fitness advice and more.

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