Newborn Birth Injuries: Causes, Prevention, and Care

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The birth of a newborn is typically a moment of immense joy and anticipation for parents. However, in some cases, the birthing process can result in injuries to the newborn. These injuries can be distressing and require prompt attention and care. This article will discuss newborn birth injuries, their causes, prevention measures, and the importance of early medical intervention.

Common Newborn Birth Injuries

Several types of birth injuries can affect newborns. Some of the most common newborn birth injuries include:

Brachial Plexus Injury: this injury can happen when there’s excessive pulling or stretching of the baby’s shoulders during delivery, leading to damage to the nerves in the brachial plexus. It can result in weakness or paralysis in the affected arm.

Cephalohematoma: cephalohematoma is the accumulation of blood between the baby’s skull and the periosteum (the membrane covering the bones). It often occurs due to the pressure exerted during delivery and may resolve on its own over time.

Fractures: fractures of the clavicle (collarbone) or other bones can occur during a difficult delivery. They’re typically treated with immobilization or splinting.

Facial Nerve Injury: pressure on the baby’s face during delivery can lead to facial nerve injury, causing temporary or permanent facial weakness.

Caput Succedaneum: this is where the soft tissues of the baby’s head swell, often caused by the pressure exerted during passage through the birth canal. It usually resolves on its own within a few days.

Intracranial Hemorrhage: in rare cases, trauma during delivery can lead to bleeding within the baby’s brain. This requires immediate medical attention.

Causes of Newborn Birth Injuries

Several factors can contribute to newborn birth injuries, including:

Prolonged or Difficult Labor: a prolonged or challenging labor increases the risk of birth injuries, as it can subject the baby to prolonged pressure and stress.

Large Baby: babies with a higher birth weight are more likely to experience birth injuries, especially if they have difficulty passing through the birth canal.

Abnormal Presentation: if the baby isn’t positioned headfirst or if there are other abnormal presentations, such as breech (feet-first) or transverse (sideways), the risk of birth injury increases.

Use of Medical Instruments: the use of forceps or vacuum extractors during delivery can contribute to birth injuries if not used carefully. You can talk to a traumatic birth injury lawyer if you believe the injuries were caused by malpractice.

Preventing Newborn Birth Injuries

  • Prenatal Care: adequate prenatal care, including monitoring the baby’s size and positioning, can help identify potential complications early on.
  • C-Section When Necessary: if complications or risks are detected during pregnancy or labor, healthcare providers may recommend a cesarean section (C-section) to reduce the risk of birth injury.
  • Skilled Medical Care: ensuring that experienced healthcare providers, including obstetricians and labor and delivery staff, are present during the birth can reduce the risk of complications.
  • Avoiding Unnecessary Interventions: minimizing the use of medical instruments or interventions that aren’t medically necessary can help to prevent birth injuries.

Importance of Early Medical Intervention

If a newborn experiences a birth injury, early medical intervention is crucial. Even minor injuries may require treatment or monitoring to ensure they don’t worsen or lead to complications. More severe injuries may necessitate immediate medical attention, surgical procedures, or rehabilitation to minimize long-term effects. Parents should be vigilant and proactive in seeking medical care if they suspect a birth injury.


Newborn birth injuries, while distressing, can often be managed with appropriate medical care and monitoring. Preventive measures, early intervention, and a collaborative approach between parents and healthcare providers can help minimize the risk of birth injuries and ensure the best possible start for the newest member of the family.