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What Types of Common Birth Injuries Count as Medical Malpractice?

For every 1,000 children born in the U.S., approximately seven of them suffer birth injuries. A birth injury is any type of physical harm resulting from a traumatic birth, and in many cases, birth injuries are entirely preventable. If your child is injured because a medical professional did not provide adequate care, you may be able to sue for compensation.

Brain Injury

There are multiple ways that an infant can get a brain injury during childbirth, and many of them are caused by negligence. Often, brain injuries happen because of a lack of oxygen. Doctors are supposed to monitor the baby's heart rate and use a C-section if they get signs that the baby is losing oxygen. If a doctor misses these diagnostic cues, the baby can end up without oxygen for too long. Often, the damage leads to cerebral palsy, a condition where a child struggles with motion, balance, and posture. Brain injuries can also lead to some intellectual disabilities.

Bone Fractures

Infants' bones do not break quite as easily as adults, but childbirth puts them under extreme pressure and contorts them in odd positions. Especially during a breech birth, fractures are common. Unfortunately, some of these bone fractures are unavoidable even when the medical professionals do everything appropriately. However, if health care providers fail to use forceps properly or to attempt to take any safety precautions, a broken bone means that you should discuss a malpractice claim with an Allentown personal injury attorney.

Nerve Damage

Some children undergo birth trauma that leads to nerve damage. In some cases, nerves are damaged because of improper use of forceps or other tools. Nerve damage can also happen in some situations where blood flow is obstructed. Whether or not nerve damage classifies as malpractice largely depends on whether or not the health care providers were following proper childbirth safety guidelines and thus the applicable standard of care.


Kernicterus is one of the most preventable types of birth injuries. When infants are born, their liver might not be developed enough to get rid of a type of chemical called bilirubin. This causes the baby to develop jaundice, a condition where their skin and sclerae turn yellow. A medical professional should be able to diagnose and treat jaundice right away. However, if a negligent doctor or nurse fails to notice the jaundice, bilirubin can build up in the bloodstream and damage the brain. This condition is called kernicterus, and it results in hearing loss, vision issues, and intellectual disabilities.


In some unfortunate situations, birth injury malpractice can be severe enough to cause death. Not all stillbirths are due to negligence, but you might have a case if your doctors did not do anything to address potential problems. Often, the trouble starts when a health care practitioner fails to recognize signs that the baby is in distress. Because they are not monitoring the baby's heart rate, they may not notice issues like an umbilical cord wrapped around the baby's neck. This lack of monitoring can mean a doctor does not perform a C-section or other emergency treatments that would save the baby's life.


Newborns have a very fragile immune system, so they are very susceptible to infections. All health care practitioners are supposed to follow a set of rigorous sterilization procedures. If someone fails to wash their hands, sterilize a tool, or use proper personal protective equipment, they can spread bacteria to the mother and the child. This can lead to infections that might be extremely hard for a baby's immune system to fight off. As you can see, there are several situations where a lawsuit would be appropriate. However, these types of cases are complicated, so you will need assistance from experienced personal injury lawyers. At Metzger & Kleiner, our team of Allentown personal injury attorneys is here to help. Call 215-567-6616 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation.

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