The Most Common Birth Injuries in the United States


Childbirth is a difficult process for everyone involved, and it occasionally results in injury to the infant. Learn about a few common birth injuries in the US.

The labor and delivery process is physically demanding for the mother, the infant, and the medical professionals assisting the delivery. Sometimes, once the infant has been successfully delivered, they show signs of injury associated with the birthing process. Discover some of the most common birth injuries in the United States, as well as their symptoms and possible causes.

Collarbone Fractures

If the baby is delivered vaginally, as opposed to a C-section, the pressure of delivery sometimes results in a broken or fractured collarbone in the infant. This injury is more common in breech babies or when the obstetrician has trouble delivering one or both of the baby’s shoulders.

These fractures can heal on their own with the application of a splint to limit movement of the injured collarbone.

Caput Succedaneum

From the Latin phrase meaning “substitute head,” caput succedaneum is a swollen bubble of fluid on the newborn baby’s scalp. This swelling often occurs due to extra pressure on the baby’s head during delivery, especially if the baby is larger or born past the expected due date.

The swelling and fluid often goes away on its own, but it’s wise to have your pediatrician monitor the area. Caput succedaneum can occasionally lead to infant jaundice, so keep an eye on your baby’s head and watch out for any complications.


Similar to caput succedaneum, a cephalohematoma is a swollen area on the baby’s head. However, this injury indicates bleeding, not just fluid, between the skull bone and the fibrous covering around the skull.

With proper monitoring and regular checkups, cephalohematomas often go away on their own as the blood gets reabsorbed into the baby’s body. Your pediatrician will keep an eye out for symptoms of jaundice and treat them if they appear.

Brachial Palsy

If the obstetrician has particular trouble delivering the baby’s shoulder, the group of nerves that control the arms and hands can be compromised. This condition is called brachial palsy and results in a severely limited range of movement of the baby’s arms and shoulders.

That range of movement often returns within a few months with the help of special exercises. If the exercises do not help, the baby may have sustained permanent nerve damage and will require further physical therapy as they develop.

Although this guide to the most common birth-related injuries in the US does not reflect every possible injury, it aims to demonstrate that these common conditions are treatable. Infants are resilient, and with the right medical care and monitoring, they can heal and grow into healthy, active children.

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