Birth Injuries & Brain Damage

Childbirth can be extremely complex and dangerous, especially if the medical staff or healthcare facility fails to handle the birth appropriately. There are several ways in which infants can be injured during childbirth, and, unfortunately, many of those injuries could result in brain damage. Infant skulls are particularly delicate, making them more susceptible to injury during and shortly after birth. Their skulls are not yet fully formed, and there are soft spots where the bones haven’t yet fused. For this reason, they need to be handled with the utmost care by doctors, nurses, and other medical staff. However, not all injuries are caused by physical trauma, other types of errors could cause serious brain damage as well.

If anything goes wrong while handling the baby, or if something is handled poorly during delivery, it could result in temporary, long-lasting, or permanent brain damage. Read on to learn more about the different ways in which infants could suffer brain damage during the delivery process.

Physical Injuries

Many infant brain injuries are caused by some type of physical trauma sustained during the birth or afterward. When doctors need to help the mother with the delivery process, this often means they must push, pull, or grab the baby to help the birth along. Whether the doctor uses his or her hands, forceps, a vacuum, or some other birthing tool, the damage could be severe. Helping with delivery can be tricky, and if the doctor or midwife pulls the baby at an odd angle, it could cause nerve damage or might even damage the baby’s neck and head.

Instruments like forceps, and especially vacuums, can cause serious damage directly to the baby’s head. If the vacuum is used too roughly, or if the doctor grips the baby’s head too tightly, it could bruise the skull or even cause internal bleeding. This could most definitely result in temporary or permanent brain damage.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is one of the more common birth injuries, and it can result in infant brain damage. Unfortunately, cerebral palsy is a life-long condition and can cause serious developmental delays, trouble with coordination, seizures, and difficulty seeing, hearing, or breathing. Cerebral palsy can be caused by mistakes made by medical staff during birth, especially if the birth process was particularly difficult or traumatic. In some cases, this condition is caused by physical trauma caused by forceps or a vacuum, or it could be as a result of oxygen deprivation. Additionally, if the baby’s heart rate was allowed to remain at a hazardous rate for too long, usually during a difficult birth, especially if the doctor was too slow to order a C-section, it could also result in cerebral palsy.

Oxygen Deprivation

As we mentioned, if the baby is deprived of oxygen during delivery or after birth, it could result in serious brain damage. Oxygen deprivation, also called birth asphyxia, can cause life-long brain damage, including conditions like cerebral palsy, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Sometimes if the mother is having difficulty during delivery, or if the baby is caught in the birth canal, it can result in a lack of oxygen to the infant. If the doctor does not act quickly to order a C-section or to help the baby through the birth canal, he or she could suffer brain damage as a result of lack of oxygen. This might also occur if the baby’s airways are obstructed and the doctor, nurse, midwife, or other medical professionals fail to properly clear the baby’s airways after birth. The baby might also be deprived of oxygen if there are umbilical cord problems, or if the baby has anemia, the mother has blood pressure problems, or if the placenta separates from the uterus and is stuck in the birth canal during delivery.


If the mother suffers a serious infection during pregnancy or during the birth, and the medical staff fails to treat it, the infection could adversely affect the unborn child. Infections can wreak havoc on the undeveloped infant’s brain, causing serious developmental delays, and potentially even death. These infections can also be extremely dangerous for the mother. A few different types of infections include cystitis, vaginal yeast infections, venereal warts, and pyelonephritis.

Infant brain damage can reveal itself in several different ways. The child’s injuries may have been apparent during the delivery process or symptoms may have started shortly after birth. However, in other cases, the baby’s brain damage may only become apparent when he or she is slow to roll over, or shows other clear developmental delays. If you suspect your child suffered brain damage during the birth process, the doctor or medical staff may be at fault.

Contact Fieger Law today to discuss your case with our Southfield personal injury attorneys.


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