Understanding Birth Injuries

mother after just giving birth holding newborn

One of the most joyous events in a mother’s life can quickly become one of the most traumatic. Childbirth is extremely dangerous even with modern technologies, and without property oversight from a health care professional, tragedy may occur. So, what are birth injuries and how do they happen?


A birth injury may occur during labor that causes the baby to suffer a physical injury that is either the result of being born or negligence from the doctor. Infants and mothers can sustain birth injuries depending on the methods used and the length of time needed to give birth.

Mothers may experience tearing in the vaginal area to pelvic floor injuries. Nerve damage can occur in some cases as well as muscle damage. Muscle damage can be temporary or permanent. More permanent injuries can lead to incontinence or other complications later in life.

Babies may sustain birth injuries if the doctor misuses medical equipment like forceps or negligently rushes the birth. Issues may also be the result of using too much physical force to deliver the child. Brain and nerve damage are unfortunately very common in terms of birth-related injuries.

These injuries may be the result of:

  • Failure to provide a timely C-section
  • Medication errors
  • Premature delivery
  • Miscalculation of the size of the baby before labor and delivery
  • Failure to properly monitor and respond to fetal distress
  • Improper use of forceps or vacuum extractor in an instrument-assisted delivery

The causes of birth trauma range from malpractice to other factors. In many cases, neglecting to perform an emergency c-section or misuse of medical equipment can do a lot of physical damage.

Other more natural causes include:

  • Prematurity
  • Dystocia (difficult labor)
  • Large babies over eight pounds
  • Abnormal birthing presentation
  • Cephalopelvic disproportion (the size and shape of the pelvis is not adequate)
  • Prolonged labor

These natural causes can create issues on their own but are often exasperated by poor medical care. For example, if a mother has cephalopelvic disproportion and the doctor refuses to perform a cesarean procedure, the risks to mother and baby increase exponentially, and birth injuries may occur.

Types of Birth Injuries

As mentioned previously, birth injuries may be the result of natural factors like birth position or prolonged labor, but they can also be caused by medical malpractice. Injuries caused by malpractice are preventable, which makes them more difficult for many families to cope with. A natural cause is outside of one's control, but negligence is preventable.

Not only are negligence-related birth injuries traumatic, but they can also be costly and shorten the lifespan of the child. These injuries include:

  • Clavicle fractures
  • Infection
  • Brain damage
  • Erb’s palsy
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Kernicterus
  • Paralysis
  • Oxygen deprivation
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Bruising or lacerations
  • Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)

If a child is born and harmed during birth due to medical malpractice, parents may need to pursue further medical care for their child and could require regular care to handle permanent conditions. Injuries like cerebral palsy and HIE require constant care and attention which is expensive and takes an emotional toll on families.

Damages for Birth Injuries

If you or a loved one has a child with birth injuries from medical malpractice, you may pursue damages including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Cost of specialized care
  • Lost wages
  • Ongoing costs for therapy
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Present and future medical expenses

It is not your fault that your child was hurt by medical negligence. Your pain and suffering cannot be quantified, but you can pursue monetary damages to assist with care and other needs that may arise as a result of birth trauma.

Contact the Law Office of David Kates for more information about birth injuries and legal action available to parents of children with birth trauma.