Understanding Birth Injuries

Understanding Birth Injuries. A mother holds hands with her newborn baby.

Welcoming a new child into the world is one of the most heartwarming moments of a parent’s life. Although we wish each and every baby was delivered without incident, we know from experience that mistakes do occur in the delivery room, and those mistakes can have wide-reaching consequences. We spoke with our own Rachel Roman to discuss some of the most common types of birth injuries, how they occur and how they’re addressed by experienced birth injury attorneys.

What is considered a birth injury?

A birth injury refers to any damage or injury to your baby before, during or shortly after birth. Depending on the nature of the injury, symptoms and permanence may vary.

What is the difference between birth defects and birth injuries?

Birth injuries and birth defects may both manifest in physical or mental disabilities. Where birth injuries happen during or just after delivery, birth defects occur as the baby develops in the womb. Birth defects are often the result of an abnormal genetic mutation, although they may also be caused by prescription drug use during pregnancy.

What are the most common types of birth injuries?

Although some birth injuries are unavoidable, many are caused by the negligence and carelessness of medical professionals. Birth injuries can be the result of poor or improper handling of your baby before and during delivery.

Brachial Plexus Injuries

The brachial plexus is a series of nerves that deliver signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm and hand. Brachial plexus injuries refer to a weakness or loss of movement in the arm as a result of tears or strains to the brachial plexus nerves.

These injuries most commonly occur during childbirth when your baby’s shoulder becomes stuck in the birth canal. If your baby’s size is estimated to be large prior to delivery, your doctor may recommend a Cesarean section. However, when your baby is delivered vaginally and the shoulder does become stuck in the birth canal, doctors are taught to perform certain maneuvers to relieve the stuck shoulder safely and without injury. When the doctor does not perform these maneuvers properly and pulls on your baby’s head and neck too hard, this excessive force may cause permanent injury to your baby’s arm.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is typically caused by an abnormal development in the brain, which can be triggered by a number of factors. One common factor is a lack of blood flow to the brain during labor and delivery.

The nurses and physicians in the delivery room are responsible for monitoring your baby’s heart rate and overall health during a labor and delivery, often using electronic fetal monitoring. If your baby is not monitored properly during labor or medical staff does not take appropriate action in response to concerning findings on the monitor, your baby may suffer devastating consequences.

How do doctors prevent birth injuries?

Medical professionals have a number of procedures in place to address situations during pregnancy that could result in a birth injury. Physicians are responsible for monitoring the mother’s health and baby’s development throughout the pregnancy in order to identify potential issues during delivery. This includes monitoring for gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and infections during pregnancy, which can cause delivery complications later. Monitoring the fetal heartbeat using electrodes during labor and delivery can identify potential risk for stroke.

If an obstetrician suspects that delivery could result in a birth injury, he or she may:

  • Perform a cesarean section delivery rather than a vaginal delivery
  • Deliver the baby earlier than intended
  • Perform certain maneuvers to free a baby stuck in the birth canal

How can you identify birth injuries?

Birth injuries have a wide range of consequences, and identifying the full extent of one may take a number of years as your child develops. You or your pediatrician may notice that your baby is not meeting certain developmental milestones, such as rolling over and sitting up properly, or not beginning speech at the right time. While lagging in these milestones is normal for some children, a pediatric neurologist will be able to monitor your child’s development over time to determine whether or not a brain or nerve injury occurred during birth.

Who is liable for a birth injury?

Birth injury liability varies greatly by case and circumstances. Generally speaking, birth injuries may be caused by some form of medical negligence by a physician, nurse, or some combination of medical staff in the delivery room. An expert birth injury attorney will be able to assess your situation and pursue the correct course of action.

What are the damages in a birth injury case?

Damages in a birth injury are highly dependent on your case. Common damages in a birth injury case may include: cost of past medical care, cost of future medical care, loss of potential wages caused by the injury as well as any pain and suffering inflicted by the injury.

Missouri Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you have suffered as a result of medical malpractice, contact our legal team right away. Waiting to seek legal representation can prevent you from filing a claim and receiving the compensation you deserve.


Contact Zevan Davidson Roman today.

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