A birth injury refers to any physical harm, damage, or impairment sustained by an infant during the birthing process or shortly thereafter. These injuries can result from complications during pregnancy, labor, or delivery, and can range from mild and temporary to severe and permanent.

Birth injuries, a devastating and often life-altering event for families, continue to be a major concern in the healthcare industry. In the United States alone, it is estimated that approximately 6 to 8 out of every 1,000 live births result in some form of birth injury, ranging from mild to severe (source: CDC).

Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed that around 50% of these injuries could have been prevented with better medical care. As the prevalence of birth injuries remains significant, it is essential for parents and caregivers to be informed about the causes, consequences, and available legal recourse to protect their rights and seek justice for their loved ones.

In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore various aspects of birth injuries, including common types, causes, and risk factors, as well as the potential long-term effects on the child and their family. Furthermore, we will provide guidance on seeking legal counsel and pursuing compensation in cases of medical negligence or malpractice. So, let’s get started.

What is a Birth Injury?

A birth injury refers to any physical harm, damage, or impairment sustained by an infant during the birthing process or shortly thereafter. These injuries can result from complications during pregnancy, labor, or delivery, and can range from mild and temporary to severe and permanent.

In some cases, birth injuries may be caused by medical negligence or malpractice on the part of healthcare providers, such as doctors, nurses, or other medical staff involved in the care of the mother and child.

It is crucial to distinguish between birth injuries and birth defects, as they are not synonymous. While birth injuries occur during the birthing process, birth defects are congenital abnormalities that develop during pregnancy, often as a result of genetic, environmental, or other unknown factors.

Common Types of Birth Injuries

Below is a list of common birth injuries:

  • Cerebral Palsy: Cerebral palsy are neurological disorders that affect muscle movement, coordination, and balance. It is often caused by damage to the developing brain during pregnancy or birth, such as oxygen deprivation or trauma.
  • Brachial Plexus Injuries: The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that control movement and sensation in the arm and hand. Injuries to these nerves during birth can result in weakness, loss of sensation, or paralysis of the affected arm. Common brachial plexus injuries include:
  • Erb’s Palsy: Affects the upper arm and is caused by damage to the upper brachial plexus nerves.
  • Klumpke’s Palsy: Affects the lower arm and hand and is caused by damage to the lower brachial plexus nerves.
  • Fractures: Infants may experience fractures during birth, most commonly of the clavicle (collarbone) or skull. These fractures are often the result of difficult deliveries, such as shoulder dystocia or the use of forceps or vacuum extraction.
  • Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE): HIE is a type of brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the brain during birth. It can lead to various neurological and developmental issues, such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and cognitive impairments.
  • Intracranial Hemorrhage: This refers to bleeding within the skull, which can result from trauma during birth. Intracranial hemorrhages can cause brain damage and other long-term neurological complications.
  • Perinatal Asphyxia: This occurs when an infant does not receive enough oxygen before, during, or after birth. Asphyxia can lead to brain damage, organ failure, and other life-threatening complications.
  • Facial Nerve Palsy: Facial nerve palsy is the result of damage to the facial nerve, leading to temporary or permanent facial weakness or paralysis. This injury is often caused by pressure during birth or the use of forceps.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: Although rare, spinal cord injuries can occur during birth, leading to paralysis or other neurological impairments. These injuries are often caused by excessive force or incorrect handling of the infant during delivery.
  • Caput Succedaneum: This is a swelling of the scalp caused by pressure on the baby’s head during delivery. While typically harmless and temporary, it can be associated with other more serious birth injuries.
  • Subconjunctival Hemorrhage: This refers to the breaking of small blood vessels in the white part of the eye, causing red spots or patches. Although it typically resolves on its own, it can be an indication of more serious underlying birth injuries.

Causes and Risk Factors for Birth Injuries

Birth injuries can be caused by a variety of factors, including complications during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. In some cases, medical negligence or malpractice may also contribute to these injuries. The following are common causes and risk factors associated with birth injuries:

  • Prolonged or Difficult Labor: A long or complicated labor increases the risk of injury to the infant, as it can lead to oxygen deprivation or the need for medical interventions, such as forceps or vacuum extraction.
  • Fetal Distress: If the baby shows signs of distress during labor, such as an abnormal heart rate, they may be at a higher risk of experiencing birth injuries due to oxygen deprivation or other complications.
  • Breech Presentation: When the baby is positioned feet or bottom first, rather than headfirst, there is an increased risk of injury during delivery. This is particularly true for injuries to the brachial plexus or spinal cord.
  • Large Birth Weight: Larger babies are more likely to experience birth injuries, particularly shoulder dystocia or fractures, as they may have a more difficult passage through the birth canal.
  • Premature Birth: Premature infants are at a higher risk for birth injuries due to their underdeveloped bodies and organs, making them more susceptible to complications during labor and delivery.
  • Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD): CPD occurs when the mother’s pelvis is too small to accommodate the baby’s head, increasing the risk of injury during vaginal birth.
  • Multiple Births: Twins, triplets, or other multiple births can increase the risk of birth injuries due to a more complicated labor and delivery process.
  • Inappropriate Use of Delivery Instruments: The improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction can cause trauma to the infant, resulting in fractures, nerve damage, or other birth injuries.
  • Inadequate Prenatal Care: A lack of proper prenatal care can increase the risk of complications during pregnancy and birth, making birth injuries more likely.
  • Medical Negligence or Malpractice: Errors made by medical professionals during prenatal care, labor, or delivery can lead to preventable birth injuries. Examples of negligence may include failure to monitor the baby’s heart rate, incorrect use of delivery instruments, or not performing a timely C-section when necessary.

It is essential for healthcare providers to recognize and address these risk factors to minimize the likelihood of birth injuries. In cases where medical negligence or malpractice is suspected, seeking legal counsel can help families understand their rights and pursue compensation for their losses.

Legal Rights and Seeking Compensation

If your child has suffered a birth injury due to medical negligence or malpractice, you have the right to seek legal recourse to obtain compensation for the damages and expenses associated with the injury. Compensation may cover medical bills, future medical care, rehabilitation, special education, assistive devices, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.

Here are the key steps to take when seeking compensation for a birth injury:

  • Consult with a Birth Injury Attorney: It is crucial to consult with an experienced birth injury attorney as soon as possible after the injury occurs. They will help you understand your legal rights, evaluate your case, and guide you through the legal process.
  • Gather Evidence: Your attorney will help you gather the necessary evidence to support your claim. This may include medical records, witness statements, expert opinions, and any other relevant documentation.
  • Establish Negligence: To successfully pursue a birth injury claim, you must demonstrate that the healthcare provider(s) acted negligently and that this negligence directly caused the injury. This typically requires proving that the provider(s) failed to meet the accepted standard of care during pregnancy, labor, or delivery.
  • Calculate Damages: Your attorney will help you determine the amount of compensation you are entitled to based on the severity of the injury, the impact on your child’s life, and the associated financial burden.
  • Negotiate a Settlement or Go to Trial: Many birth injury cases are settled out of court through negotiations with the responsible party’s insurance company. However, if a fair settlement cannot be reached, your attorney may recommend taking the case to trial, where a judge or jury will decide the outcome.

It is important to note that there are statutes of limitations that apply to birth injury claims, meaning there is a limited window of time during which you can file a lawsuit. The specific time frame varies depending on the state and the circumstances of the case. An experienced birth injury attorney can help you navigate these deadlines and ensure your claim is filed in a timely manner.

By seeking legal representation and pursuing compensation, you can obtain the resources needed to provide the best possible care and support for your child, while also holding the responsible parties accountable for their actions.

Choosing the Right Birth Injury Attorney

Selecting the right birth injury attorney is crucial to the success of your case and obtaining the compensation your family deserves. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the complex legal process, provide valuable guidance, and maximize your chances of a favorable outcome. Consider the following factors when choosing a birth injury attorney:

  • Experience and Expertise: It is important to choose an attorney with a strong track record in handling birth injury cases specifically. These cases are highly specialized and require an in-depth understanding of medical terminology, procedures, and the unique legal issues involved. Look for an attorney with a proven history of successfully handling birth injury claims.
  • Reputation: A reputable attorney will have positive testimonials from previous clients and a strong standing in the legal community. You can research the attorney’s reputation by reading online reviews, asking for recommendations from friends or family, or consulting with other legal professionals.
  • Communication and Accessibility: A good attorney will be responsive to your needs, answer your questions, and keep you informed throughout the process. They should be readily available to discuss your case, address your concerns, and provide timely updates on its progress.
  • Compassion and Empathy: Birth injury cases can be emotionally challenging for families. It is essential to work with an attorney who understands the emotional toll these cases can take and treats you with compassion, empathy, and respect.
  • Resources: Successful birth injury cases often require extensive investigation, expert testimony, and strong legal representation. Ensure that the attorney you choose has access to the necessary resources and connections to build a strong case on your behalf.
  • Contingency Fee Arrangement: Many birth injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if they win or settle your case. This can provide peace of mind and reduce financial stress, as you will not have to pay upfront legal fees.
  • Initial Consultation: Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case and evaluate its merits. Use this opportunity to ask questions, assess the attorney’s knowledge and expertise, and determine if they are the right fit for you and your family.

By taking these factors into account, you can select a birth injury attorney who will be best suited to represent your interests and help you achieve a fair and just outcome for your case.


To conclude, birth injuries are a significant concern for families and the healthcare industry. They can range from mild and temporary to severe and life-altering, with various causes and risk factors contributing to their occurrence. Understanding the different types of birth injuries, their causes, and potential long-term effects is crucial for parents and caregivers to ensure the well-being of their children.

In cases where medical negligence or malpractice is suspected, families have the right to seek legal recourse and pursue compensation for the damages and expenses associated with the injury. Choosing the right birth injury attorney is vital for successfully navigating the complex legal process and obtaining the compensation needed to provide the best possible care and support for the affected child.