What Causes Birth Injuries?


For every 1,000 babies born in the US, seven will experience a birth injury. Some of these may be immediately apparent, such as broken bones or a brachial plexus injury. Others may take months or years to show symptoms. Whether you’re expecting or a grief-stricken parent, you should know what causes birth injuries.

Natural Causes

Some birth complications are natural and unavoidable. A nuchal cord is one such example. This condition describes when the umbilical cord becomes tightly wrapped around the baby’s neck in utero. Thankfully, almost all babies impacted by a nuchal cord make a recovery, though they may have some health concerns immediately after delivery.

Overly Forceful Pulling

Improper delivery techniques and extensive pulling are two of the most common causes of birth injuries. When doctors pull too hard, they risk fracturing the baby’s bones. While the baby’s bones often heal quickly, there can be complications and unintended bone-fusing, which results in long term issues for the child.

Forceful pulling in opposite directions can also result in Erb’s Palsy. This birth injury occurs when the head and arms are pulled in different directions, causing nerve damage at the shoulder. Although there are therapy options for brachial plexus injuries, the child may experience long-term weakness in one arm.

While many babies recover from injuries caused by overly forceful techniques with therapy and proper treatment, others may suffer from long-term disability. It depends on the extent of the damage and the amount of force used.

Birth injuries caused by overly forceful pulling are often preventable. In the case of a breech birth (when the baby comes out bottom or even feet first), negligent doctors may pull and twist to extract the baby from the birth canal. This type of delivery and the injuries associated with it can often be avoided if the doctor had opted for an urgent caesarian section.


Forceps are responsible for a variety of birth injuries. While they’re much less common than they used to be, some medical professionals argue that they should be done away with altogether, except in the case of an emergency or when the mother is too tired to continue.

Use of forceps often causes degrees of paralysis, especially in the face and upper body. While the paralysis is treatable with proper therapy, other forms may be permanent. In very rare cases, improper use of forceps may result in spinal paralysis or paraplegia.

Similar to overly forceful pulling, the use of forceps often results in broken bones and fractures. While these can heal on their own, parents may be distraught at the sight of forceps marks and a splint.

Shockingly, 1 in 3 birth injuries in the US results in permanent cerebral palsy. This type of brain malformation is often preventable and, when not genetic, can result from too much pressure (from forceps, pulling, or something else) on the baby’s head. Cerebral palsy almost always carries life-long consequences that lead many parents to seek social programs and long-term care.

Delayed C-Sections

The birth injuries and potential complications from a delayed C-section are a topic of their own. C-sections always carry some degree of risk, but carelessness and negligence can significantly increase injuries and the extent of the suffering.

By their nature, C-sections create an opening for lacerations, infections, scars, and deformities. Improper technique can have a serious impact on a baby before their first breath. Removing the baby from in utero presents more challenges. Once again, forceful pulling is a common culprit of broken bones and palsy.

Birth injuries resulting in palsy, autism, and other mental disorders are more likely in the case of a delayed birth injury. In these situations, the baby may be starved for oxygen inside the womb, and by the time te surgery begins, the baby has suffered permanent brain damage. Delayed C-sections result in some of the most traumatizing birth injuries imaginable. It can be hard to accept that a baby was forever changed by improper and negligent care.

If your child suffered a birth injury due to negligent medical treatment, you might be entitled to just compensation. If you’d like an experienced medical malpractice lawyer from The Moore Law Firm to evaluate your case, please don’t hesitate to send us an email or call (513) 232-2000.

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If you have been injured or have lost a loved one as a result of another person's negligence, you deserve to be fully compensated for your losses. The simple fact is that you should not be forced to pay the price for another person's careless or reckless actions.