Common Birth Delivery Injuries That Cause Brain Damage

There are three general categories of risk for brain damage during delivery: reduced oxygen dangers, trauma dangers and the danger of reduced glucose levels. Two or more can occur simultaneously, and can be caused or exacerbated by medical error.

Reduced Oxygen

A mother's placenta provides oxygen to the baby during a delivery. If something happens to the placenta, then oxygen cannot get to the baby and may cause neural damage to the newborn. This can occur in the following ways:

  • Low or high blood pressure, which can be caused by epidurals and result in eclampsia (convulsions that can result in a coma to the mother)
  • Inappropriate use of Pitocin or Oxytocin, a hormone that stimulates contraction of the placenta during long deliveries, that may cause contractions to occur too frequently and cut off blood flow to the baby

Damage or compression of the umbilical cord can also cause a lack of oxygen to the brain. This can occur if the cord is wrapped around the baby's neck or pressed between the mother's pelvic bone and the baby's head. In the event this occurs, the doctor must rush the birth, or in some cases deliver by a cesarean section.


Trauma to the baby can occur in a number of ways. Medical errors, such as the misuse of vacuum extractors or forceps, can cause brain damage from cerebral bleeds, contusions, stretching and tearing of blood vessels and brain tissue. Forceps and vacuum errors may also cause skull fractures.

Trauma to the baby can also occur through prolonged contractions and pushing when the baby's head is forcibly pushed against the mother's pelvic bone. In these cases, the doctor should deliver by cesarean section, not vaginally.

Reduced Glucose Levels

Extended deliveries can drop sugar levels in the baby's bloodstream. After a lengthy delivery, the health care team should check the infant's glucose level and treat it as necessary. If a low blood sugar level remains untreated, it can cause brain damage.

Obstetrics Errors Can Cause Devastating Injuries

Medical errors during delivery can cause devastating and tragic injuries. If your child was injured because of a medical error, you should contact a personal injury attorney. While no amount of money can ease the pain of a tragedy occurring during delivery, an attorney can get you compensation to pay for medical bills and to provide for the services your child needs.