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10 Common Birth Injuries

The Ten Most Common Birth Injuries

A 2006 study on Expanded Health Data From the New Birth Certificate, reported in the National Vital Statistics Reports for the Center for Disease Control, cited a total of 2,073, 368 births involving significant birth injury from 19 reporting states.  Michelle J.K. Osterman, et al., Expanded Health Data From the New Birth Certificate, 58 National Vital Statistics Reports 5 (Oct. 2009), http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr58/nvsr58_05.pdf.  Significant birth injuries, as reported by the CDC, include skeletal fractures, soft tissue/solid organ hemorrhage, and peripheral nerve damage.  Id.

In addition to the injuries cited below, Injury Lawyer Database has a good resource for birth injury information here.

Most Cited Birth Injuries:

 

Brachial Plexus Injuries (BPI)

This type of birth injury involves damage to the bundle of nerves that originate from the upper spine and go through the neck, shoulder, arm, and hand.  Damage to these nerves can range anywhere from mild and temporary to severe and permanent (approximately 10% of cases result in permanent disability).  The mildest form of brachial plexus injury is neuropraxia, which involves the stretching of the nerve.  More severe is neuroma, where the nerve is torn and does not heal properly.  Rupture involves the tearing of the nerves, yet they remain attached to the spine.  The most severe presentation of brachial plexus injury is avulsion, where the nerve roots are completely dislodged from the spine, creating complete paralysis.  Giles Manley, Medical Negligence: Inside the Brachial Plexus Case, 43 Trial 52 (May 2007).

 

Bone Fractures

A complicated or difficult delivery is usually the cause of broken bones in newborns, especially a fractured clavicle (collar bone).   Depending on the severity of the fracture, immobilization might treat the break.  Otherwise, it will heal on its own.  MedlinePlus (U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health), http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001588.htm.

 

Cephalohematoma

A cephalohematoma is a collection of blood below the covering of a portion of the skull bone.  These pose no danger to the newborn and clear up on their own.  The Merk Manual of Medical Information (Second Home Edition) Birth Injury

 

Caput Succedaneum

This injury presents as a swelling of the scalp and a portion of the scalp could appear bruised or discolored.  Caput Succedaneum is usually caused by excessive pressure during delivery.  Like most birth injuries, this is not a life-threatening injury and usually heals on its own. MedlinePlus (U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health).

 

Perinatal Asphyxia

Perinatal Asphyxia occurs when the newborn does not receive sufficient amounts of oxygen, usually when there is an oxygen deficiency in the blood or if there is insufficient blood flow to the fetus or newborn.  This condition can cause labored breathing, pale complexion, seizures, coma, or even shock.  This could completely clear up or it could cause permanent neurologic damage. The Merk Manual of Medical Information (Second Home Edition) Birth Injury.

 

Intracranial Hemorrhage/Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

This injury includes bleeding in the skull, commonly under the two innermost layers of the brain covering (subarachnoid hemorrhage). The Merk Manual of Medical Information (Second Home Edition) Birth Injury.

 

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

This is merely a bursting of a blood vessel in the eye, creating a bright red area on the eye.  Again, this birth injury is usually caused by variations in pressure during birth and clears up on its own. MedlinePlus (U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health).

 

Facial Paralysis

With this type of birth injury, the facial nerve is damaged either temporarily or permanently.  Certain presenting symptoms of this injury involve lack of control over facial muscles, which is usually noticeable when the infant cries.  Usually this birth injury dissipates on its own over time. MedlinePlus (U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health).

Spinal Cord Injuries

These injuries are often more severe than most birth injuries and are possibly due to traumatic nerve/cord damage or meningeal tear or the use of forceps.  This can cause paralysis and neurologic problems.  Karin M. Unsinn, US of the Spinal Cord in Newborns: Spectrum of Normal Findings, Variants, Congenital Anomalies, and Acquired Diseases, 20 RadioGraphics 4 (Aug. 2000), http://radiographics.rsna.org/content/20/4/923.full.pdf+html.

 

Cerebral Palsy

Approximately two or three in 1,000 children have cerebral palsy.  It is characterized by muscle spasms, weak muscles, and lack of development with motor skills.  Despite wonderful breakthroughs in medicine, there is no cure for cerebral palsy.