Common Reasons Why Birth Injuries Occur

7 mins read

A birth injury is used to describe any harm to a baby that happens before, during, or shortly after birth. Birth injuries may sometimes leave no permanent damage. However, at other times, it can result in permanent disabilities for the child, depending on the type of injury sustained.

There are several causes of birth injury, ranging from trauma during delivery to oxygen deprivation. Here are the common reasons why birth injuries occur.

1. Delayed Birth

In cases where the delivery team delays too long in inducing birth, it can lead to a birth injury. Hence, delayed birth is one of the common reasons for birth injury.

The fetus’s brain can only withstand pressure for a specified time, after which the pressure on the brain becomes too difficult to endure. Too much pressure on the brain can increase the baby’s blood pressure and result in a birth injury. Medical teams should be trained to avoid overly long (up to 18 hours) and arduous labors to prevent such situations.

They should also learn how to immediately recognize fetal distress and make prompt decisions to go for an emergency C-section.

2. Medical Malpractice

Medical practice can cause birth injuries when oxygen deprivation, trauma, delayed birth, etc. occurs before, during, or after delivery as a result of negligence from the medical team.

It is so-called medical malpractice because medical staff should know better and have the foresight to prevent birth injuries. As a result of their carelessness, miscalculations, and slow decision casing, such medical personnel may be implicated in cases where a birth injury occurs.

In such cases, a birth injury lawyer may be in the best position to seek justice and compensation for the mother and the baby. Read more to know how best to get a lawyer, the resources, and options available for you.

3. Oxygen Deprivation

Oxygen deprivation is one of the leading causes of severe birth injuries. It can occur from both external and internal factors.

The external forces that can propel oxygen deprivation include short or prolapsed umbilical cord, placenta abruption, and uterine rupture. In contrast, the internal factors that influence birth injury include underdeveloped lungs and low birth weight.

Oxygen deprivation may result in brain damage. This is because of insufficient levels of blood flow and oxygen to the baby’s brain during the time of birth.

Babies who suffered from oxygen deprivation may also experience damages to their other organs as a result of cell death. The effects of which can be mild (temporary) or severe (causing permanent damage), depending on the extent of the injury.

4. Trauma

Birth injuries can occur as a result of trauma caused by torsion and pressure on the baby. Birth injuries that happened as a result of trauma may further cause other injuries or damages, such as oxygen deprivation and cerebral palsy.

Several factors can cause traumatic birth injuries. Some of these include wrong fetal position (breeched delivery), prolonged labor, inefficient use of forceps and vacuum extractors, blunt force application during childbirth, and cases when the baby gets stuck in the birth canal.

Medical practitioners are advised to carefully monitor both mother and baby during pregnancy and delivery, and to proffer immediate solutions, such as emergency C-section if safe vaginal birth cannot be guaranteed.

5. Premature Birth

Another major cause of birth injury is premature birth. Babies who are born prematurely are more susceptible to birth injuries because their organs and brains are yet to develop fully.

They are also at higher risk of developing neonatal breathing problems that require urgent medical attention. Such babies are usually placed on a machine to help them breathe.

Premature newborn baby girl in the hospital incubator after c-section in 33 week

Carelessness on the part of the medical team can result in overventilation. This term explains when there is a removal of too much carbon dioxide, preventing proper blood inflow to the brain.

Overventilation can cause loss of tissue in the brain area, which can lead to cerebral palsy and hearing impairments. It can also cause scarring of the lung tissue that leads to the collapse of the lung.

The signs of tissue damage in the brain may not be immediately evident, which is why medical personnel must take precautions when dealing with babies that are born prematurely.

6. Poor Prenatal Care

Birth injury may occur as a result of inadequate and improper prenatal care during pregnancy. To ensure the safety of both mother and child, quality antenatal care must be provided throughout.

Through routine ultrasound checks and tests, doctors can easily recognize and identify problems such as fetal growth problems, problems with the umbilical cord, maternal health conditions that can lead to high risks pregnancies, among others.

By identifying these risks early on, doctors can provide solutions to reduce risks and prevent birth injuries from occurring.

7. Infection

Infection may occur during labor and delivery because babies are usually exposed to the mother’s viruses and bacteria during this period.

It’s also essential for doctors to test mothers during prenatal to ensure there’s no presence of maternal infection, which can be harmful to the fetus.

If left untreated, a maternal infection can travel and infect the fetus’s spinal cord and brain, which can lead to conditions, such as encephalitis, pneumonia, and meningitis.


There are different reasons why birth injuries occur. They range from delayed birth to medical malpractices or negligence, oxygen deprivation, maternal infection, trauma, premature birth, and inadequate prenatal care.

The effects of birth injuries can vary from mild to severe depending on the severity of the damage, which is why quality prenatal, antenatal, and postnatal care is essential to prevent birth injuries.

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