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5 Signs of a Birth Injury

Colburn Law

No parent wants to discover that his or her child suffered a birth injury. Birth injuries can require weeks or months of healing for the infant. Some children may never fully recover from their birth injuries. The main cause of birth injuries in Washington State is negligence. A doctor or nurse’s negligence during pregnancy, labor, or delivery can cause broken bones, facial paralysis, Erb’s palsy, brain damage, or cerebral palsy. If you suspect your child might have suffered a birth injury, look for these five signs that something is wrong and contact a Seattle birth injury lawyer.

Trouble Feeding

Birth injuries that impact a baby’s brain development could make it difficult for the infant to feed. Difficulty suckling, eating, chewing, or swallowing could point to a motor function disability such as cerebral palsy. It could also be a sign of facial palsy or paralysis. Facial palsy is a relatively common birth injury after difficult or traumatic deliveries. Most children fully recover from facial palsy over time. Be mindful of any difficulties eating or suckling in your infant. A brain hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain), cerebral palsy, or another birth injury could be causing the complication.

Lack of Ability in One Arm

One of the most common body parts affected by a complicated delivery is the shoulder and arm. An infant’s shoulder may lodge behind the mother’s pelvis during birth (shoulder dystocia). If the physician tugs on the baby’s arm, it could cause damage to the nerves, tendons, and ligaments. Lack of proper birthing techniques or the failure to order an emergency cesarean section could contribute to arm and shoulder injuries. One of the most common is brachial plexus injuries (Erb’s palsy).

A brachial plexus injury is damage to the nerves in the upper arm, or the brachial plexus. Damage to these nerves can cause temporary loss of movement, feeling, and function in the affected arm. Another word for this condition is Erb’s palsy. Signs of Erb’s palsy in your infant may include limpness or weakness in one arm or hand. If your child had shoulder dystocia, you may notice Erb’s palsy or signs of brain hypoxia (lack of damage to the brain) in your infant after birth.

Tender Spots

If you notice excessive or inconsolable crying, as well as spots on your infant that appear to be tender, swollen, or bruised, he or she could have a bone fracture. Broken bones may occur during a complicated birth if the physician tugs on the infant or improperly uses birth-assisting tools. While not all broken bones are signs of malpractice, if a doctor diagnoses your infant with a broken bone from a birth injury, speak to a personal injury attorney. Fractures in the collarbone are the most common, followed by skull, arm, and spinal cord fractures.

Developmental Delays

As your child gets older, signs of brain-related birth injuries may become more apparent. If your child misses milestones such as crawling, walking, or talking, he or she may have a condition such as cerebral palsy. Injury to the brain during birth can cause cerebral palsy, which is a permanent condition that affects motor function. Signs of cerebral palsy can include poor muscle tone, a floppy child, an arched back or neck, tense muscles, muscle spasms, and developmental delays.


Seizures in an infant can stem from birth injuries such as brain hemorrhages. Subarachnoid, subdural, and intraventricular hemorrhages can all cause infant seizures. The severity of the seizures (and the treatment options) depends on the extent of the birth injury. Any trauma to the head or brain before, during, or shortly after birth can cause seizures. Asphyxia, or oxygen deprivation, is one of the most common causes of seizures in babies. If your child exhibits any signs of injury after birth, contact a personal injury lawyer in Bellevue.