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Top Medical Errors That Lead to Birth Injuries


CDC reports that 7 in 1000 children are born with a birth injury in the United States. That’s over 28,000 babies every year. While some errors are minor and temporary, others can cause severe, lifelong disabilities.

Birth injuries can be caused to the mother or baby before, during, or after childbirth. Cephalohematoma, Cerebral Palsy, Erb’s Palsy, Facial Paralysis, and Brachial Plexus Injury are a few common birth injuries.

You entrust your child’s and your safety to the hospital staff during childbirth. But sometimes, things can go wrong. There are many ways to help prevent birth injuries. Understanding the risks and complications during childbirth is a good place to start.

Here is a quick rundown of the standard medical malpractices by doctors and nurses that may lead to a birth injury.

Failure to Spot Fetal Distress:

Every day, doctors make mistakes. They’re human. But when a doctor’s mistake leads to a birth injury, it can be devastating for the patient’s family. One common medical error that leads to birth injuries is failure to spot fetal distress.

Fetal distress is when the baby is in danger and is not getting enough oxygen. It can happen during labor or delivery. If not treated quickly, it can cause brain damage, cerebral palsy, or even death.

Unfortunately, many doctors and nurses fail to spot the signs of fetal distress. They may not be paying attention, or they may not be adequately trained. Either way, it’s a severe problem.

If you think your baby was injured because of medical negligence, you should contact a birth injury lawyer. An experienced lawyer can help you deal with a medical malpractice birth injury case by highlighting the available legal options and getting the compensation you deserve.

Delayed Delivery:

Usually, pregnancies last between 37 and 42 weeks. However, in some cases, they may take longer. These are referred to as post-term. Around 10 percent of pregnancies are post-term.

Post-term pregnancies are considered high-risk and can lead to several complications, including birth injuries.

For example, the delivery may be more complicated if the baby is too big. The baby may get stuck in the birth canal or suffer from shoulder dystocia. These complications can cause serious injuries, including brachial plexus injury, Erb’s palsy, and cerebral palsy.

Doctors should employ medically-induced labor or Cesarean section delivery when a pregnancy is post-term. But sometimes, they don’t. They may try to wait it out or not realize the pregnancy is post-term.

Failure to Maintain Proper Hygiene:

Pregnancy and childbirth are both dirty businesses. There’s no getting around it. But that doesn’t mean your medical team should be lax about hygiene. Unfortunately, sometimes they are.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that one in every 25 hospital patients gets an infection. That’s a pretty high rate.

One of the most common infections is Group B Streptococcus (GBS). It’s a bacteria found in the vagina and rectum of around 25 percent of women. It’s usually harmless to the mother. However, it can be passed to the baby during childbirth. If your medical team doesn’t take proper precautions, your baby could get GBS.

GBS can cause several problems, including sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis. It can also lead to developmental delays, cerebral palsy, and even death.

Improper Use of Forceps:

Forceps are a medical instrument that is used to help deliver the baby. They look like a pair of tongs and are placed on either side of the baby’s head. They are then used to help guide the baby out of the birth canal.

According to CDC, doctors use forceps in around 0.5 percent of live births in the US. If used correctly, they are beneficial. However, if misused, they can cause serious injuries. Applying too much pressure, using the wrong size, or using them at the wrong angle can lead to birth injuries.

Misusing forceps can cause skull fractures, facial paralysis, excessive bruises, and cephalohematoma.

Failure in Preventing Hypoxia:

Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) is a common and severe birth injury. It happens when the baby doesn’t get enough oxygen. It can happen for several reasons, including placental abruption, umbilical cord prolapse, or maternal bleeding.

HIE can cause problems, including seizures, developmental delays, cerebral palsy, and even death. US witnesses between 2 and 20 in 1000 cases of HIE each year.

A medical team should be able to quickly identify when a baby is not getting enough oxygen. However, sometimes in the rush of getting the baby delivered, they may use higher vacuum pressure or pull too hard. It increases the risk of HIE. Similarly, if your doctor fails to detect a breech presentation, it can also lead to HIE.

Improper Diagnosis of Jaundice:

Newborn jaundice is a common condition. It happens when the baby’s liver can’t process bilirubin properly. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment produced when the baby’s red blood cells are broken down. Around 60% of children are born with newborn jaundice. That’s every 3 in 5 children.

Jaundice itself is not dangerous. However, if it’s improperly diagnosed and treated, it can lead to problems like kernicterus. Kernicterus is a type of brain damage when bilirubin builds up in the brain. It can cause cerebral palsy, hearing loss, and even death.

Some doctors may fail to detect jaundice in babies due to unfamiliarity with the signs and symptoms. They may also mistake it for another condition, such as dehydration.

Preventable birth injuries are tragic. They can cause lifetime pain and suffering for both the child and the family.

Failure in Preventing Tearing or Hemorrhage in Mothers:

As mentioned, mothers too can experience complications during childbirth. One of the most common is tearing or hemorrhage. It’s estimated that around 18 percent of mothers who give birth vaginally will experience tearing.

Tearing can happen due to an oversized baby, fast delivery, or a small pelvis. If your medical team fails to take the proper precautions like using episiotomy, you’re at a higher risk of tearing.

A severe tear can damage the surrounding tissues, muscles, and nerves. It can also cause incontinence and sexual dysfunction. In a few cases, it can even lead to death.


As a parent, you’re excited to finally meet your little one. You’ve been waiting for nine long months. You don’t want to think about anything other than holding your child close and patting your back for a job well done.

However, it is also essential to be aware of the risks involved in childbirth. Things can and do go wrong. You may not realize, but birth injuries are common.

If you are prepared and know your facts, you may be able to avoid or catch a potential problem. That way, you can ensure a happy and healthy delivery for you and your baby.

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