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What are the most common birth traumas?

As an Oregon mother-to-be, you probably spend a good deal of time joyfully anticipating the birth of your baby. But you may also worry about the labor and delivery process, fearing that your baby could be injured during it.

Fortunately, the vast majority of U.S. babies come through the birthing process just fine. The Birth Injury Guide reports that only approximately 3% of babies born in the U.S. suffer any type of birth trauma or injury. Nevertheless, for these few, the injury could lead to a lifetime of problems.


Fractures represent the most common birth traumas and usually occur to your baby’s collarbone, preventing him/her from moving his/her arm on whichever side of the collarbone sustained the fracture. (S)he may also show signs of pain, such as constant crying. If so, your pediatrician likely will apply a splint or soft bandage to stop any possibility of arm jostling while the fracture heals.

Caput Succedaneum and Cephalohematoma

Caput Succedaneum represents another common birth trauma and causes your baby’s scalp to swell and/or bruise. Generally this injury occurs if you have a long and/or difficult labor and delivery and the doctor needs to use vacuum extraction to aid your baby’s entry into the world. Usually the swelling goes down within a few days or weeks.

Cephalohematoma is a similar type of injury that causes temporary soft lumps on your baby’s head due to blood that accumulates in his/her periosteum, the membrane covering his/her skull. As with Caput Succedaneum, a cephalohematoma injury usually heals within a few days or weeks.

Oxygen deprivation

Ir goes without saying that all human beings, including babies, need oxygen in order to live. Unfortunately, however, your baby, can suffer oxygen deprivation both prior to and immediately after his/her birth. For instance, the umbilical cord can become entangled around his/her neck while (s)he is still in your womb. Or (s)he may not begin breathing on his/her own immediately upon birth. In either situation, this lack of oxygen can severely damage his/her brain, leading to such lifelong disabilities as cerebral palsy.

Other common birth traumas

Other common birth traumas include the following:

  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage: bleeding in your baby’s eye vessels
  • Bell’s palsy: nerve damage on one side of your baby’s face
  • Brachial plexus injury: injury to the nerve network connecting your baby’s spinal cord to his/her arms and hands

The good news is that most birth traumas are temporary in nature and heal on their own without any type of medical intervention. This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.