Common Birthing Injuries

Texas Medical Negligence Attorneys

There are many things that can go wrong during the birth of a child.  This is why it is extremely important that doctors are well trained, procedures are in place and followed, and that everyone involved in the delivery process is fully informed and engaged during the delivery.  Unfortunately, sometimes, negligence occurs by doctors, nurses, or others that can cause injuries to a baby during child birth.  Sometimes, these injuries require a lifetime of medical care to treat the injuries caused by medical negligence.  The Houston and san Antonio, Texas Childbirth Injury Lawyers at Hill Law Firm have seen many injuries caused by medical negligence during delivery.  Some of the more common birthing injuries are discussed below.

Brain Injuries

There are many circumstances in which birthing errors can result in serious and permanent brain damage to a baby.  Most often, these injuries will be the result of a lack of oxygen to the baby during delivery, varying types of head trauma during delivery (usually due to improper use of vacuum extractors, forceps, and other delivery instruments), or an undiagnosed or untreated infection of the mother or baby during pregnancy.  Many of these injuries will prove fatal to the child, and those that do not will often require a lifetime of treatment and special care.  Common problems associated with brain injury during birth include:

  • Impaired motor skills;
  • Impaired learning capacity;
  • Behavioral problems; and
  • Mental retardation.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture often caused by injury to the brain during or before birth.  A serious of tests are needed to properly diagnose cerebral palsy, which typically includes brain scans, electroencephalograms, vision and hearing tests, and blood tests.

  •  Types
    • Spastic cerebral palsy – Accounting for about 80% of all cerebral palsy cases, spastic cerebral palsy is characterized by stiffness and difficulty moving, due to tightness in one or more muscle groups. Patients with this type of cerebral palsy have a hard time moving from one position to another and have difficulty holding onto and letting go of objects.
    • Athetoid cerebral palsy – About 10% of cerebral palsy cases are of this type. Athetoid cerebral palsy is typified by involuntary movement, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, inability to maintain posture, and low muscle tone.
    • Ataxic cerebral palsy – Also accounting for about 10% of cerebral palsy cases, symptoms of ataxic cerebral palsy include depth perception problems, distorted sense of balance, tremors, and difficulty with coordinated muscle movements.
  • Causes of Cerebal Palsy
    • Maternal infections that go unnoticed by the treating physician, which affect brain development in the fetus;
    • Lack of oxygen to the brain related to difficulties or complications in labor and/or delivery;
    • Infant infections that can cause inflammation in or around the brain;
    • Traumatic head injury to the infant soon after birth;
    • Undiagnosed infant illness or infection.


Dystocia is characterized as abnormally difficult childbirth or labor, and is one of the most common birthing complications in America today.

Shoulder dystocia cases tend to represent the greatest risk to the child’s health.  In these cases, a child’s shoulders get stuck inside the mother’s birth canal during a natural birth, which results in a much slower and more dangerous delivery.  With proper precautions and well-trained medical professionals, a safe delivery can usually made despite the condition.  However, even slight negligence on the part of the caretakers can result in serious injuries and complications for both mother and baby.

  • Complications for the Baby Include:
    • Broken collarbone or arm;
    • Injury to the nerves, shoulder, arms and hand;
    • Paralysis;
    • Brain damage;
    • Death.
  • Complications for the Mother Include:
    • Tearing of the uterus, vagina, cervix, or rectum;
    • Heavy bleeding after delivery;
    • Bruising of the bladder.


Because newborn babies are at such an early stage in their development, fractures to their small and delicate bones may occur if proper care is not taken.  Large birth weight and advanced gestational age contribute to the risk of bone fractures during delivery.

  • Common Fractures During Birth Include:
    • Clavicle Fractures – these are the most common type of birthing fracture, and affect the collarbone, which connects the chest to the shoulder.
    • Femur Fractures – fractures of the femur (thigh bone) can occur when the leg is twisted unnecessarily during delivery.  Though less common than clavicle fractures, these still represent a large number of birthing injuries.
    • Brachial Plexus Injuries (Erb’s Palsy) – though not technically a fracture, a child suffering from a brachial plexus injury may present symptoms which appear similar to a broken arm.  In these cases, the group of nerves which travels from the neck down to the arm is stretched when the head is pulled in one direction and one arm is pulled in another, resulting in severe weakness in one arm.


Temporary or permanent paralysis may occur as a result of childbirth for a variety of reasons.  Extreme care must be taken particularly when administering anesthesia drugs in the form of an epidural.  During the epidural procedure, a needle is inserted into the mother’s spinal column into an area directly surrounding the spinal cord, spinal nerve roots, and spinal fluid.  Medication is then injected into the area to desensitize the nerves and provide for a less painful delivery.  However, if the needle is not carefully put in place, severe nerve damage may occur resulting in paralysis.

If your child was born with one of the injuries discussed above, it may have been caused by medical negligence during the delivery of your child.  If you would like a free legal consultation at either of our offices in Houston or San Antonio, contact the Texas Childbirth Injury Lawyers at Hill Law Firm today.