What are the Most Common Birth Injuries?


No parent wants to think about their child having a birth injury—but unfortunately, thousands of babies suffer birth injuries every year in the United States, including in Rhode Island. Many birth injuries occur when medical professionals are negligent during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. These birth injuries are preventable, as opposed to birth defects, which occur due to chromosomal abnormalities or other uncontrollable factors.

The Most Frequently Reported Birth Injuries

There are a variety of birth injuries that may occur throughout pregnancy, labor, or delivery. The most common cases of birth negligence involve the following conditions.

Brachial Palsy

Brachial palsy occurs when the brachial plexus suffers injury. The brachial plexus is a group of nerves that controls movement in the arms. Mild nerve injuries may resolve on their own or with physical therapy, but more severe injuries may cause permanent damage.

Brachial palsy is often linked to difficult births, in which medical professionals must manipulate the baby’s body after the shoulders become lodged in the birth canal.


Cephalohematoma refers to a condition in which blood pools underneath the baby’s skull. Although in most cases the baby’s body reabsorbs this blood, the condition can lead to jaundice if the body takes too long to break the red blood cells down. Cephalohematoma is often caused by physical trauma during birth.

Facial Paralysis

In some cases, excessive amounts of pressure on a baby’s face during labor and delivery may cause facial paralysis. It may also be caused by the use of forceps. If the nerve is only bruised, the paralysis may resolve on its own. However, if the nerve has been severed, it may be necessary to operate to repair the damage.

Birth Asphyxia

Birth asphyxia occurs when a baby’s oxygen supply is cut off. The oxygen deprivation may occur for just a few moments or for several minutes. Oxygen deprivation may cause serious and permanent brain injuries if it lasts for an extended period of time.

Birth asphyxia may have several causes, including a prolapsed or compressed umbilical cord, long and difficult deliveries, or issues with the placenta.  

Risk Factors for Birth Injuries

Although birth injuries may occur in any pregnancy, labor, or delivery, there are certain factors that increase the risk of certain birth injuries. Women who have these risk factors should be carefully monitored to reduce the odds of birth injury.

Long Labors

Long labors, due to the stress they put on the baby’s body, are more likely to result in birth injuries. Mothers who have been in labor for extended periods of time should be carefully monitored for any signs of birth injury. In some cases, it is necessary to perform a Caesarean section to protect the health of the mother and baby.

If You Believe Medical Negligence Injured Your Baby, Contact Our Rhode Island Firm Today

At Mandell, Boisclair and Mandell, Ltd., our medical malpractice attorneys are experienced in all types of birth injury claims. In fact, we have nurse paralegals on our staff to provide insight into these tragic claims. To schedule your free consultation at our Providence, Rhode Island office, contact us today.