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Tags birth asphyxia, birth injury, birth injury lawyer, brachial plexus injury parenting, brain injury, cerebral palsy, erb's palsy, HIE, medical malpractice, medical negligence, personal injury

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It’s common knowledge that throughout history, childbirth was incredibly dangerous, often resulting in the death of both the mother and infant. Spectacular advances in science and medicine have made childbirth much safer than it ever has been. Still, birth injuries are all too common, and many times, a birth injury is preventable because of these advances in medicine. Merson Law PLLC has put together a list of the ten most common birth injuries, many of which are injuries that OB/GYNs are trained to recognize and prevent.

What you need to know is that if your child suffered from one of these injuries, you may be entitled to financial compensation, provided your doctor did not act within reasonable standards to prevent the injury.

infant suffering from common birth injuries receives oxygen

The 10 Most Common Birth Injuries

Head and Brain Injuries

Head and brain injuries are by far the most common birth injuries. These injuries can occur for a variety of reasons, from impact trauma from forceps to oxygen deprivation.

Head and brain injuries are especially common during a breech birth or in the case that the birth canal is too small for the infant to fit through.

Every child and every birth is different, and with that, the severity of infant head and brain injuries can vary. In some cases, doctors identify the signs of oxygen deprivation promptly and address the issue, and in other cases a doctor may inadvertently let a condition prolong. 

Severe head and brain injuries can result in many different conditions, including seizure disorders, mental impairment, and cerebral palsy. In rare and severe cases, the child may die from their injuries.

Fractured Bones

Infant bones are very fragile. It is common, especially during difficult labors and breech births, for babies to break bones during childbirth. 

The collarbone, more accurately the clavicle,  is the most common broken bone during delivery.  

This is because the shoulders are the widest part of an infant’s body, and due to the fragile nature of an infant’s bones, the shoulder can easily become stuck in the birth canal and get fractured.

Even though their bones are fragile, babies generally recover very quickly from broken bones, provided they receive medical attention.

Cerebral Palsy

Nearly three in every 1,000 children born in the US develop cerebral palsy, making it one of the most common birth injuries.

Cerebral palsy, commonly abbreviated CP, is caused by damage to or abnormal development in the brain. This creates problems in the brain’s connection with muscles, and leads to symptoms such as muscle spasms, a lack of motor development, and problems with vision, hearing, and learning. 

There is no cure for cerebral palsy, but many children persevere with the help of treatment, medication, or physical therapy.

To learn more about cerebral palsy, check out our other posts specifically discussing CP in the Merson Law blog post library.

Merson Law: New York's Top Birth Injury Law Firm

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Founder Jordan Merson of Merson Law has built a stellar reputation representing birth injury law clients who have suffered catastrophic injuries.

The birth injury law team at Merson Law has extensive experience litigating birth injury medical malpractice cases valued in excess of $1 million and much of their background includes prosecuting cases that have resolved for more than $10 million.

The lawyers at Merson Law PLLC have decades of experience litigating cases like your’s, many of which have settled for millions of dollars.

Our team will work with you to get the compensation you need to build the best life for your child, and we’ll do it without hourly rates.

To start your claim, contact us by filling out our confidential form or by calling our Manhattan office. Get started with your birth injury lawsuit today.

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Brachial Plexus Injuries

The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that runs along the shoulder, sending information from the brain to the muscles in the arms and hands. 

It’s an important system of nerves, and when damaged, it can affect your child’s ability to use their arms and hands. 

In a shoulder injury during childbirth, it is important for your doctor to check to see if the brachial plexus was damaged. While the clavicle can fully heal, the nearby brachial plexus cannot as easily. 

Damage to the brachial plexus can lead to a condition called Erb’s Palsy. 

See our blog posts about Erb’s Palsy to learn more about this condition.


While cephalohematoma sounds scary, it is one of the less severe birth injuries on this list.

A cephalohematoma is a collection of blood that forms between the baby’s skull and scalp. Essentially, a cephalohematoma is like a severe bruise, though the pocket of blood can swell and produce a visible lump on your child’s head. This can occur if blood vessels in the scalp are broken due to impact trauma or pressure. 

A cephalohematoma will not pose danger to your newborn, and while it may look unsettling, a cephalohematoma will generally resolve on its own.

Facial paralysis

Similar to a brachial plexus injury, damage to nerves in the face can cause muscular issues. 

Facial paralysis can occur if the facial nerve is damaged, either permanently or temporarily.

Facial paralysis can sometimes be identified by a drooping of one side of the face, or an inability for your child to control their facial muscles normally. Your doctor should request tests and investigate whether this condition will resolve itself, should your child develop facial paralysis.

Caput Succedaneum

Caput succedaneum is another scary-sounding condition that is generally harmless. 

Similar to a cephalohematoma, caput succedaneum (sometimes shortened to just “caput”) is the result of a fluid buildup, also known as an edema, in your child’s head. 

Caput succedaneum is sometimes, in a darkly comedic way, referred to as “cone-head” due to the appearance of the condition.

Just like in a cephalohematoma, the fluid will eventually be absorbed and removed by the body, resolving itself over time.

caput succedaneum in infant

Intracranial hemorrhage/subarachnoid hemorrhage

Intracranial hemorrhages or subarachnoid hemorrhages are similar to a cephalohematoma, but much more severe.

In an intracranial hemorrhage, bleeding occurs within the skull. 

This sort of hemorrhage can lead to permanent neurological problems, and your OB/GYN should look for signs and symptoms of such an injury. It is important that this is treated immediately to prevent long term problems or death.

We urge you to contact Merson Law PLLC if your child suffered an intracranial hemorrhage during birth. 

Perinatal Asphyxia

Perinatal asphyxia is the failure to establish breathing at birth. It frequently occurs when the umbilical cord is twisted. Perinatal asphyxia can have long term consequences on the mental development of a newborn, since the brain needs oxygen to function.

Perinatal asphyxia is a serious condition that OB/GYNs are trained to identify and attempt to resolve.

How a Birth Injury Attorney Can Help You 

These ten birth injuries, along with many others, can be the result of medical malpractice or medical negligence. 

However, birth injuries are not always easily recognized immediately following birth. If your delivery was not handled properly and you believe your child could have experienced a birth injury, it is best to consult with a knowledgeable birth injury attorney as soon as possible.

At Merson Law PLLC, we are dedicated as a team of medical-malpractice lawyers to bring about the best outcome for you. We understand how heartbreaking a preventable injury can be, not including the financial and mental hardship that brain injury can bring. 

Call us today or fill out our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.

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