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Birth Injury

What is a birth injury?

Occasionally during the birth process, the baby may suffer a physical injury that is simply the result of being born. This is sometimes called birth trauma or birth injury.

What causes birth injury?

Birth injuries are more common when:

  • The baby is large

  • The baby is not head-first in the birth canal

  • The baby is born prematurely or too early

  • The size or shape of the mother's pelvis or birth canal makes it difficult for a normal vaginal birth

  • Labor is difficult of very long. For example, when contractions aren't strong enough to move the baby through the birth canal

  • The baby is not head first in the birth canal

  • The mother is very overweight

  • There is a cesarean delivery

  • Devices, like forceps, are used to deliver

What are some of the more common birth injuries?

The following are common birth injuries:

  • Swelling or bruising of the head

  • Bleeding underneath one of the cranial bones.

  • Breakage of small blood vessels in the eyes of a baby

  • Pressure on a baby's face may cause the facial nerve injury

  • Injury to the group of nerves that supplies the arms and hands 

  • Fracture of the clavicle or collarbone

Online Medical Reviewer: Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 9/11/2014
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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