Sep 18

Birth Injuries

Approximately seven out of every 1,000 births in the United States includes some level of birth injury. More birth trauma injuries occur in not-for-profit hospitals than in private, for-profit hospitals (7.15 per 1,000 live births as opposed to 4.33 per 1,000 live births) and male babies are more often the victims of birth trauma injuries than female babies. While babies are sometimes born with a birth defect for no apparent “reason,” there are also many times when a birth trauma injury could have been avoided, and medical malpractice is the “reason.” Medical negligence is considered any preventable error on the part of a physician, nurse or other medical staff, and birth injuries caused by medical negligence are more common than you might think.

Additional statistics regarding birth errors include the following:

  • Those newborns covered by Medicaid had a significantly increased risk of birth injury when compared to newborns covered by private insurance.
  • Vaginal births had the highest number of birth injury rates, particularly when forceps or vacuums were used (160.5 birth injuries per 1,000 births).
  • In a single year, as many as 157,700 avoidable injuries are sustained during childbirth by both newborns and mothers.
  • When no instruments are used during a vaginal birth, the risk of injury and trauma dropped significantly. Vacuum and forceps deliveries can cause retinal hemorrhage, feeding difficulties and intracranial hemorrhage.
  • Birth injuries for Caesarean deliveries most often occurred due to failed attempts at a vaginal birth which used a vacuum or forceps. Fetal injuries in Caesarean deliveries were much lower than those for vaginal deliveries—Caesarean deliveries have only a 1.1 percent rate of fetal injury.

The Most Common Birth Injuries

The most common birth injuries resulting from a birth error or medical malpractice include:

  • Facial Paralysis
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Intracranial Hemorrhage
  • Subconjunctival Hemorrhage
  • Caput Succedaneum
  • Perinatal Asphyxia
  • Cephalohematoma
  • Bone Fractures
  • Erb’s Palsy


It is believed that at least half of all birth injuries are potentially avoided when obstetrical risk factors are both identified and planned for.

When Medical Treatment Goes Wrong

The cause of many of the above birth injuries can include oxygen deprivation, failure to recognize warning signs of a problem, delayed birth, and flat out negligence or medical malpractice. When a baby’s body is improperly manipulated during the delivery, broken bones and bruising can occur, as well as dislocation, and issues associated with vacuum extraction. A woman may be given medications which place the baby at risk, or something as seemingly simple as a failure to monitor the baby’s heart rate could cause a birth injury. These birth injuries range from mild to severe, with the severe end including brain injuries and paralysis.

A delay in the birth can cause the baby to remain in the birth canal for too many hours, placing too much pressure on the head. To prevent a baby from being in distress due to the brain compression by the birth canal, most medical experts recommend a C-section when labor lasts longer than 18 hours. Nearly all brain-related birth injuries are the result of oxygen deprivation, caused either by a delayed birth, or a kinked umbilical cord.

Getting Helps Following a Birth Injury Due to Medical Malpractice or Negligence

Whenever the cause of a birth injury is directly related to negligence or medical malpractice, a medical malpractice suit could be warranted. It can be very challenging, not to mention expensive, to care for a child who was harmed by medical negligence resulting in birth injuries. Having an experienced Oregon birth error attorney by your side can make a significant difference in the outcome of such a claim. Keith Dozier and his associates have successfully recovered millions for parents whose babies have suffered from birth injuries  in Portland, Vancouver, Lake Oswego, Salem, and throughout the state of Oregon. Call us today at (503) 594-0333 for a free initial consultation and review of your case.

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