The Most Common Types of Birth Injury and How To Detect ThemTrusted Content
Legally reviewed by:Erik Abrahamson, J.D. November 24, 2016
Aggressive Attorney Serving Families of Victims of Birth Injuries in the Tampa Area
If you are concerned that your child may have suffered an injury at birth, you need to speak with an attorney about your rights. Many types of birth injuries can have lifelong consequences for newborns and their families. For many families, the financial strain of seeking treatment and addressing long-term needs can be too much to bear.
The first step toward recovering from a traumatic birth injury is to obtain a diagnosis that identifies both (i) the cause of the injury, and (ii) the immediate and long-term consequences for your newborn. The following are 10 of the most common types of birth injuries that can entitle families to seek financial compensation from the doctors and hospitals that are responsible.
10 Most Common Types of Birth Injuries
1. Brachial Plexus Injuries
The brachial plexus is made up of nerve fibers that run from the spine, through the neck and into the arms. During delivery, if the infant is subjected to excessive force or pressure, the brachial plexus can sustain damage leading to injuries and conditions, including:
- Erb’s Palsy
- Klumpke’s Palsy
2. Bone Fractures
Bone fractures can result from use of excessive force during delivery, as well. A fractured clavicle (collarbone) is among the most common birth-related bone fractures, though arm, leg, facial, spinal, and other fractures are possible, as well.
A cephalohematoma is a type of birth injury characterized by the pooling of blood underneath the newborn’s scalp, between the skin and the skull. Cephalohematoma injuries are commonly associated with improper use of forceps and vacuum extraction tools, though other errors during both natural and C-section deliveries have also been known to cause cephalohematomas.
4. Caput Succedaneum
Caput succedaneum injuries are characterized by swelling which appears as a lump or bump on a newborn’s head shortly after delivery. They are most commonly caused by prolonged pressure on the fetus during labor. The likelihood of an infant suffering from caput succedaneum increases if the amniotic sac ruptures early in the birthing process.
5. Perinatal Asphyxia
Perinatal asphyxia is a potentially dangerous condition that results from disruption of the infant’s oxygen supply during labor or delivery. For newborns, this oxygen deprivation can lead to physical injuries, commonly including damage to the brain. Acidosis, cerebral palsy, and seizures are all potential consequences of perinatal asphyxia as well.
6. Intracranial Hemorrhage
Intracranial hemorrhage refers to bleeding within the skull. Trauma during delivery and birthing errors that cause damage to the blood vessels and arteries in the brain are common causes of intracranial hemorrhages. Cerebral hemorrhage (bleeding within the brain) and hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding caused by a torn blood vessel) are two common types of intracranial hemorrhage.
7. Subconjunctival Hemorrhage
Subconjunctival hemorrhage is a condition that occurs when there is damage sustained to the blood vessels under the conjunctiva (the clear surface of the eye). While subconjunctival hemorrhage can have many causes among infants, subconjunctival hemorrhage most commonly results from trauma or physical stress during the delivery process.
8. Facial Paralysis
Trauma during delivery can also lead to facial paralysis. One form of facial paralysis is Bell’s palsy, which typically affects one side of the face (though in some cases it can affect both). Bell’s palsy and other forms of facial paralysis can lead to blindness, loss of sense of taste, and other sensory impairments.
9. Spinal Cord Injuries
Birth-related spinal cord injuries can result from trauma during delivery, or from failure to diagnose spina bifida – a condition in which the vertebrae in a fetus’s spine do not fully enclose the spinal cord. Most birth-related spinal cord injuries occur in the neck area; and, generally speaking, the higher on the spine an injury occurs, the more severe the consequences will be.
10. Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is a birth injury that results from malformation of the brain before, during, or after delivery. Cerebral palsy can affect a newborn’s muscle control, coordination, and balance, and can have numerous other long-term consequences as well. Spastic cerebral palsy, athetoid cerebral palsy, and ataxic cerebral palsy all have different symptoms and prognoses.
How to Detect Common Birth Injuries
For new parents, detecting birth injuries can be difficult. Your newborn is not able to communicate his or her pain or discomfort, and in some cases doctors who are responsible for causing birth injuries may not be fully forthcoming about the potential consequences of their mistakes. You need to obtain a prompt and thorough medical diagnosis, but if you suspect that medical malpractice is to blame for your newborn’s injury, you are understandably wary about asking another doctor in the same facility for help.
Nonetheless, you need to seek medical attention for your newborn, and it is important to keep in mind that there are many doctors who have sustained long careers without making the types of mistakes that led to your new child’s injury. The following are all potential symptoms of various birth injuries that may require prompt medical attention:
- Abnormal reflexive responses
- Disfigurement of the arms, shoulders, legs, or back
- Lack of sensory response
- Swelling or bruising around the skull
As your child grows, it is possible that you may begin to notice symptoms of a birth injury that were not observable at earlier stages in his or her development. Among toddlers and young children, additional symptoms of different forms of palsy and other birth injuries include:
- Behavioral issues
- Bladder control problems
- Developmental delays
- Emotional instability
- Lack of coordination or muscle control
- Poor eyesight
- Speech impediments
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), x-rays, mental health screening, and other forms of diagnostic testing may be necessary to identify a child’s birth injury and the specific cause behind it. If you are not sure how to get the testing your child needs, the legal professionals at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk can help.
Contact Abrahamson & Uiterwyk in Tampa, FL about Your Child’s Birth Injury
If you are concerned that your child may have sustained an injury during pregnancy, labor, or delivery, contact Abrahamson & Uiterwyk in Tampa, FL for a complimentary consultation. To speak with one of our experienced birth injury lawyers, call (800) 538-4878, start a Live Chat, or contact us online today.