20 Birth Injuries Caused By Medical Malpractice

Apr 1, 2024 | Birth Injuries, Medical Malpractice

While birth injury rates have declined over the past two decades, birth injuries are still far more common than they should be. This is because a significant percentage of all birth injuries are attributable to medical malpractice. When birth injuries result from medical malpractice, parents can—and should—seek just compensation, as healthcare providers who commit malpractice can be held fully accountable for the financial and non-financial costs that parents and their children suffer.

How do you know if your child’s birth injury is attributable to medical malpractice? Determining the cause of a birth injury requires a comprehensive medical analysis. After determining the cause of a child’s birth injury, then the next step is to determine whether the cause rises to the level of medical malpractice under Florida law. With this in mind, working with a team of lawyers who have specific experience handling complex medical malpractice cases is critical for seeking the financial compensation that you and your family deserve.

Is Your Child’s Birth Injuries Due to Medical Malpractice?

As we have previously discussed, failure to detect, failure to prevent, and failure to treat are among the most common forms of medical malpractice leading to birth injuries. These medical errors, among others, can lead to birth injuries including:


Cephalohematoma is a birth injury characterized by swelling on top of a newborn’s head. This swelling occurs when blood collects between the skull and the newborn’s skin. While cephalohematomas present after childbirth can have a variety of causes, medical malpractice is frequently to blame. This is especially (though not exclusively) true in cases involving high birth weights and multiple births—when doctors need to be particularly cognizant of the risks of complicated and prolonged births.

Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD)

Cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD) is a condition that exists when a baby’s head is too large to fit through the mother’s pelvis. This presents a variety of health risks for the baby; however, these risks can generally be avoided with a timely diagnosis and appropriate medical care. When a doctor fails to accurately diagnose or appropriately address CPD during labor or delivery, this failure will be deemed to constitute medical malpractice in many cases.

Cerebral Palsy (CP)

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a congenital disorder that also has several potential causes—including many potential causes linked to medical malpractice. Cerebral palsy diagnoses are life-changing for newborns and their families. The financial and non-financial costs of living with CP can be enormous, and parents who have any reason to suspect that their child’s CP diagnosis is the result of medical malpractice should consult with a birth injury lawyer about their legal rights.


Cholestasis, more formally known as intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP), is a maternal condition during pregnancy that can lead to various potential complications for the mother’s baby. Thus, while cholestasis itself isn’t necessarily classified as a birth injury, it can lead to birth injuries without proper diagnosis and treatment. These days, fetal complications from cholestasis, or ICP, are preventable in most cases—which means that when these complications occur, families will often have medical malpractice claims under Florida law.


Similar to cholestasis, chorioamnionitis is a maternal health condition that can lead to birth injuries without timely diagnosis and proper treatment. Treating chorioamnionitis is often as simple as administering appropriate antibiotics, which means that failing to treat chorioamnionitis and prevent its potential complications will often constitute medical malpractice. Meningitis, pneumonia, sepsis, and other preventable illnesses at birth will be indicative of diagnostic and treatment failures in many cases.

Developmental Disabilities

Developmental disabilities can result from many different forms of medical malpractice during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and neonatal care. Cognitive disabilities, degenerative conditions, metabolic disorders, and nervous system disorders all can—and should—be avoided with appropriate medical care in many cases. If your newborn has been diagnosed with a developmental disability, we strongly encourage you to speak with one of our birth injury lawyers about your family’s legal rights.

Erb’s Palsy

Erb’s palsy is a form of paralysis caused by damage to the nerves in the brachial plexus. This damage can result from several forms of medical malpractice, including failure to reposition a fetus before delivery, use of excessive force during delivery, and other similar types of errors. Frequently, these errors result from failure to diagnose the risk of damage to the brachial plexus—which itself will constitute medical malpractice in many cases.

Fetal Acidosis

Fetal acidosis occurs when a fetus is exposed to too much carbon dioxide in the womb. While it often results from complications during pregnancy such as placental abruption, it can also simply result from how the placenta develops or how the fetus is positioned in the womb. Here, too, both diagnostic and treatment failures can be to blame, and they can entitle families to just compensation for their medical expenses, their newborn’s pain and suffering, and other present and future losses.

Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)

Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a birth injury that can lead to developmental disabilities and other life-altering complications. It is also a birth injury that doctors can—and should—prevent in most cases. Generally, HIE results from the fetus having an inadequate oxygen supply in the womb, and this is both detectable and treatable with quality medical care.

Infant Anemia

Anemia is a potentially serious medical condition characterized by an insufficient healthy red blood cell count. Red blood cells deliver oxygen throughout a fetus’s or newborn’s body, and adequate oxygen is essential for a newborn’s health and development. As a result, monitoring for signs of anemia is a basic aspect of proper healthcare during and after pregnancy, and failure to diagnose or treat infant anemia is a mistake that doctors can—and should—typically avoid.

Infant Jaundice

Infant jaundice is another potentially dangerous condition that is both avoidable and treatable in most cases. But, without timely diagnosis and treatment, its effects can quickly worsen; and, if left untreated for long enough, infant jaundice can lead to life-altering complications. These include cerebral palsy, cognitive disabilities, and seizures, among others. Jaundice is caused by the presence of excess bilirubin in a baby’s blood, and this is a condition that is readily detectable both before and after birth. This means that failure to prevent complications from infant jaundice is often representative of medical malpractice.

Neonatal Encephalitis

Neonatal encephalitis is a potentially serious medical condition characterized by inflammation of the brain. If left untreated, it can lead to other types of birth injuries as well, including encephalopathy. Like many other medical complications at childbirth, neonatal encephalitis has a fairly particular set of symptoms, and doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals should know to watch for these telltale symptoms after birth. Failure to diagnose and failure to treat neonatal encephalitis are both all-too-common forms of medical malpractice.


Oligohydramnios is a fetal condition caused by insufficient access to amniotic fluid in the womb. It can lead to various serious complications; and, as a result, doctors and other healthcare providers must monitor for signs of oligohydramnios and its effects before, during, and after childbirth. Complications of oligohydramnios that should generally be avoided with appropriate medical care include fetal compression syndrome, pulmonary hypoplasia, and the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth, among many others.

Pitocin Injuries

Pitocin is used to speed up the delivery process. When necessary, administering Pitocin can also help mitigate the risk of injuries during childbirth, including injuries caused by oxygen deprivation. However, when used improperly, Pitocin can cause birth injuries as well. For example, one of the most common forms of Pitocin-related medical malpractice is administering too much of the drug, which can increase the risk of fetal trauma during delivery.

Placenta Accreta

Placenta accreta occurs when an expecting mother’s placenta grows too deep into the uterine wall. This prevents the placenta from detaching properly during delivery, which can present serious risks for both the mother and the baby. For babies, the biggest risks associated with placenta accreta are related to lack of sufficient oxygen supply, which can cause developmental disabilities, cognitive disorders, and various other life-altering (or even life-threatening) consequences. As a result, proper diagnosis and treatment are critical, and failure to provide a timely diagnosis or administer effective treatment will often constitute medical malpractice.

Placenta Previa

Placenta previa occurs when an expecting mother’s placenta covers her cervix, blocking the fetus’s path through the birth canal. Similar to placenta accreta, placenta previa can present severe risks for the fetus if not diagnosed and treated properly. Also similar to placenta accreta, placenta previa can—and should—be properly managed by the family’s healthcare provider in most cases.


Polyhydramnios is the opposite of oligohydramnios, which means that it is characterized by excess amniotic fluid in the uterus during pregnancy. Similar to oligohydramnios, doctors and other healthcare providers must assess the risk factors and warning signs for polyhydramnios, and they must intervene as necessary to prevent complications caused by the excess amniotic fluid. Failure to prevent these complications (which include macrosomia, placental abruption, and umbilical cord prolapse, among others) will constitute medical malpractice in many cases.

Shoulder Dystocia

Shoulder dystocia is a potentially dangerous condition that occurs naturally when a fetus’s shoulders become lodged behind the mother’s pelvis during delivery. It is fairly common, and this means that doctors, nurses, and other care providers should monitor for the risk of shoulder dystocia during virtually all deliveries. When a fetus gets stuck in the birth canal, prompt intervention can be critical for preventing physical trauma and complications from oxygen deprivation, so failure to properly treat shoulder dystocia will frequently constitute medical malpractice as well.

Uterine Tachysystole

Uterine tachysystole occurs when an expecting mother experiences unusually strong contractions or an unusually high number of contractions during labor. While often associated with improper Pitocin administration, it can have other causes as well. Regardless of the cause, uterine tachysystole also requires prompt intervention to avoid the risk of potentially serious fetal complications.

Vasa Previa

Vasa previa presents similar risks to placenta previa. With vasa previa, instead of the placenta covering the cervix, the fetus’s path through the cervix is blocked by a portion of the umbilical cord. Like most (if not all) of the other birth injuries and complications on this list, vasa previa is easily detectable with modern medical technology, and this means that failure to properly diagnose vasa previa and prevent unnecessary complications will frequently justify a claim for medical malpractice.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a Coral Gables Birth Injury Lawyer at Silva & Silva

If your child has been diagnosed with any type of birth injury that may be the result of medical malpractice, we invite you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Silva & Silva. With offices in Coral Gables, we represent families in birth injury cases across Florida. To speak with an experienced lawyer about your family’s legal rights in confidence, please call 305-445-0011 or tell us how we can contact you online today.