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While the majority of births in the US occur without trauma or complications, a portion of all live births will result in a birth injury. To be more precise, the most recent data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project shows that around 158,000 birth injuries occur each year that were potentially avoidable. That means roughly seven out of 1,000 children in the United States are born with birth injuries.

7 of the Most Common Birth Injuries

How do these injuries occur? Many involve head trauma, which can severely alter every other area of a child’s normal progression of growth and development. Others might impact nerve function and muscle mobility. Nearly all will require at least one type of therapy or treatment, often permanently.

The birth injury advocates at the Smith Law Center have been representing families since 1949. If you believe your child’s birth injury was preventable, we are available to answer your questions anytime at (757) 244-7000.

Below are seven of the most common birth injuries:

Brachial Plexus

Brachial plexus injuries entail nerve damage from the newborn’s upper spine to the shoulder, neck, arm, and hand. Although the damage may be temporary and restricted to a stretching of the nerve, the infant can be left with a permanent disability. The most severe cases of brachial plexus involve torn or ruptured nerves which fail to heal correctly. In extremely severe cases, complete paralysis is caused when the nerve roots are totally dislodged from the spine.

Cerebral Palsy

On average, two to three out of every 1,000 children born in the United States have cerebral palsy. The condition causes a lack of motor skills, muscle spasms, and weak muscles. Improper monitoring of the mother during labor, a failure to monitor fetal distress, and poor birthing techniques can all lead to brain damage causing cerebral palsy. 

Perinatal Asphyxia

Perinatal asphyxia is caused by oxygen deprivation in the blood during birth. When there is insufficient blood flow to the baby before birth, it can cause seizures, shock, or even a life-threatening coma.

Subgaleal Hemorrhages

The use of forceps or vacuum extraction can cause a subgaleal hemorrhage in a newborn. This is bleeding under the baby’s scalp above the periosteum that covers the skull bones. This can cause significant bleeding and shock. The baby may even require a blood transfusion.

Subdural hemorrhage 

Newborns can also suffer bleeding between the outer and the inner layers of their brain covering. Subdural hemorrhage puts added pressure on the surface of the brain. Newborns with a subdural hemorrhage can develop serious health problems, such as seizures.

Spinal Cord injuries

A baby’s spinal cord is more fragile than an adult’s. The heavy-handed use of forceps during delivery can cause nerve or spinal cord damage. This may lead to permanent paralysis and neurological problems.

Facial Paralysis

Too much pressure on the baby’s face can damage nerves. Facial paralysis is also associated with excessive forceps use or vacuum extraction. The baby may not be able to move one side of his or her face or even open an eye.

Causes Behind Common Birth Injuries 

Closeup of a pregnant woman's bare belly with her OBGYN in the rear, blurred out of focus. Doctor errors can lead to common birth injuries.

While there are instances when a child is born with a birth injury apart from human error, many are preventable. If a doctor or healthcare worker was directly responsible for a child’s birth injury, families may be able to seek compensation. This is known in the legal realm as medical malpractice.

Examples of doctor neglect leading to birth injury include:

  • Umbilical cord complications
  • Excessive use or misuse of forceps
  • Delayed C-Sections
  • Improperly treated infections
  • Asphyxiation
  • Untreated jaundice
  • Failure to detect fetal distress


Birth injury lawsuits are challenging and often require years of experience as well as sufficient financial backing from the law firm. If you think your child was injured at birth, our legal advocates can help provide complimentary, private legal advice.

Talk to a Virginia Birth Injury Lawyer

If you believe your child’s birth injury is due to a medical provider’s substandard care, the attorneys at the Smith Law Center are available to answer your questions.

Your child may qualify to receive financial compensation to help offset the cost of:

  • Treatment, including physical therapy, operations, and injections to increase your child’s comfort and quality of life
  • Time away from work due to caring for your child
  • In-home assistance
  • New equipment, including a wheelchair accessible vehicle


Our Virginia birth injury lawyers have unique training and certifications in brain injury and are intimately acquainted with the laws surrounding medical malpractice lawsuits. Since 1949, we have won over a billion dollars for injured Virginians. Please call us today to learn more about how we can help your family at (757) 244-7000.

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SPEAK TO US NOW FOR FREE

Your legal questions answered, completely free of charge.

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IF WE DON’T WIN, YOU DON’T PAY

There are absolutely no out-of-pocket fees for filing a claim.

icon target

DELIVERING RESULTS SINCE 1949

We are one of Virginia’s largest and most successful law firms.

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU - Tablet View

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU


Use the simple form below to send a message directly to our lawyers. We will respond within 1 hour or less during business hours.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.