7 Most Common Birth Injuries

baby feet

Birth injuries (AKA birth trauma) happen more often than you think, according to birth injury lawyers in San Diego, Sigelman Associates. Not all are devastating, mind you, but many can be temporarily debilitating, and it’s important to know what these injuries are and how they occur so you’re prepared to deal with them should they ever arise.

How Does Birth Trauma Happen?

According to Stanford Children’s Health, there are several factors that can make birth injuries more likely. These include the baby being born prematurely, the baby being atypically large, abnormally long delivery times, and if the mother is overweight, among other things. These most often contribute to forms of head trauma, but there are a number of other ways in which newborns can be injured. Let’s discuss which are seen as most likely to occur.

Frequent Birth Injuries

Among the many possible birth injuries, Stanford Children’s Health again identifies seven types of trauma to be the most common: Brachial Palsy, Forceps Marks, Caput succedaneum, Cephalohematoma, Facial Paralysis, Fractures, and Subconjunctival Hemorrhage. Here’s a bit more detail on how they occur and what they might do to a newborn child.

Brachial Palsy

When the nerves that run to the arms and hands are damaged, a child has likely suffered brachial palsy. It happens most often when there is difficulty in delivering a baby’s shoulder, and it can limit a child’s ability to use their arm while limiting their range of motion.

Bruising & Forceps Marks

The mere act of passing through the birth canal can sometimes leave bruises on a newborn’s head. Alternatively, forceps and related means of extracting a child can leave temporary marks, bruises, or lacerations.

Caput Succedaneum

Following a vacuum extraction, children are more likely to develop swelling beneath the scalp. It can also happen when passing through the birth canal normally. Generally, this swelling subsides in a few days.


This occurs when there is bleeding between the skull bone and its fibrous covering. The body will reabsorb the blood, but it can take several months to heal. In some cases, the hematoma may be accompanied by jaundice.

Facial Paralysis

When facial nerves are injured during birth, it can lead to a type of facial paralysis that generally goes away in a few weeks time. The facial nerves are commonly injured due to pressure on the face from forceps or other implements.


Sometimes bones are fractured during birth, with the most likely being the collarbone or clavicle. Fractures tend to heal quickly, but will limit a child’s range of motion temporarily.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

This refers to bleeding within the eye. This doesn’t lead to damage, however, and generally clears up within a week or so.