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Birth Injuries: Recognizing Signs and Symptoms

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The birth of a child is a moment of unparalleled joy and hope for parents. However, sometimes this blissful occasion can be marred by birth injuries, which can cause distress and concern for both parents and their newborn. Birth injuries refer to any damage or trauma sustained by an infant during the labor and delivery process. Although not all births result in injuries, it is essential for parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of birth injuries to ensure early detection and appropriate medical intervention.

Bruising and Swelling

One of the most apparent signs of birth injuries is bruising and swelling on the baby's body. These injuries usually occur due to pressure exerted during delivery or the use of forceps or vacuum extraction. While minor bruising is common, extensive bruising or swelling on the baby's head, face, or other body parts should raise concern and prompt parents to seek medical attention.

Difficulty Breathing

Birth injuries can sometimes lead to respiratory problems in newborns. If a baby is experiencing rapid or irregular breathing, grunting, or wheezing, it could indicate a potential injury to the respiratory system. Prompt medical evaluation is crucial in such cases to ensure the baby receives appropriate care and support.

Altered Consciousness

Newborns with birth injuries might display signs of altered consciousness, including lethargy, excessive sleepiness, or difficulty waking up. Unresponsiveness to stimuli or a lack of normal reflexes could also be indicative of neurological issues resulting from birth trauma.


Seizures in a newborn can be a severe sign of birth injury, especially if they occur within the first few days after birth. Seizures can manifest as rhythmic movements, jerking, or stiffness in the baby's body. It is vital for parents to seek immediate medical attention if their newborn experiences seizures.

Arm or Shoulder Injuries

Brachial plexus injuries, which affect the nerves in the shoulder and arm, are relatively common birth injuries. These injuries can occur when there is excessive pulling or stretching during delivery, leading to weakness or paralysis in the affected arm. Parents should look for signs such as lack of movement or grip in one arm or an asymmetrical appearance in the baby's hands.

Persistent Crying and Irritability

Babies with birth injuries may exhibit excessive crying, irritability, or difficulty being soothed. This behavior can be indicative of pain or discomfort resulting from the injury. It is essential for parents to communicate any concerns about their baby's crying patterns to the healthcare provider.

Feeding Difficulties

Birth injuries, especially those affecting the facial nerves or muscles, can interfere with a baby's ability to suck or swallow properly. Difficulties with breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, such as gagging, choking, or frequent coughing during feeds, may suggest the presence of an underlying injury.

Abnormal Head Shape

In some cases, birth injuries can lead to an abnormal head shape, such as a misshapen skull or cranial asymmetry. This could occur due to the positioning of the baby in the womb or the use of birthing instruments during delivery.

At Potter Law, LLC, we are dedicated to helping families affected by birth injuries. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can assist you.