Other Birth Injuries

In addition to cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy (or brachial palsy), a number of health conditions can result from a birth injury during delivery. Some of these injuries may occur because the doctor delivering the baby fails to properly monitor its condition or uses improper methods to deliver the baby from the womb.

Shoulder dystocia

Shoulder dystocia occurs when the baby’s shoulder becomes lodged during the delivery process. The risk of this condition is especially high in larger babies (weighing more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces), but many cases also occur in smaller babies. Deliveries done with forceps or a vacuum extractor may increase the risk of this condition.

Babies who experience shoulder dystocia are at risk for a variety of birth injuries, including Erb’s palsy, other types of brachial plexus or nerve injuries, a broken clavicle, Klumpke’s palsy, diaphragm paralysis or other respiratory problems.

Fractures and broken bones

When a baby is delivered using too much force or in an improper manner, fractures and broken bones may result. Babies who are delivered by breech birth (buttocks or feet first) or who experience shoulder dystocia may suffer a broken clavicle. Fracture to the long bones may also occur when the leg or arm is rotated during a breech birth.

Improper use of forceps

The use of forceps to deliver a baby can result in cuts or bruises on the baby's face and head. If the doctor performing the delivery puts too much pressure on the face with the forceps, damage to the facial nerve may result. In some cases, this type of birth injury may need to be repaired with surgery. If a doctor uses too much force in pulling on the baby’s head, it can lead to a brachial plexus injury or Erb’s palsy.


Asphyxia occurs when the baby’s body does not receive enough oxygen. This can be caused by problems with the umbilical cord or placenta. If not treated quickly, asphyxia can lead to serious birth injuries, including cerebral palsy, brain damage or death.

Other types of birth injuries, including swelling of the scalp tissue, bleeding underneath the cranial bones or bleeding from broken blood vessels in the eye, may also occur. These conditions may result from the use of forceps or a vacuum extractor during delivery. Parents of children who suffer these kinds of birth injuries may well need the help of a birth injury lawyer.

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