Complication in the process of labor and delivery can result in a wide variety of problems for a newborn baby. These problems have become known as birth injuries in the medical and legal community. One major cause of birth injuries is oxygen deprivation, which commonly occurs when the umbilical cord is compressed and/or twisted in the birth process. The other main cause is mechanical trauma which may occur when the baby assumes an unusual position at the time of birth.

Some red flags during pregnancy or birth are:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Long labor
  • Breech
  • Fetal distress
  • Excessive water retention and weight gain

Birth injuries that occur during labor or delivery are:

  • Seizures
  • Meconium aspiration
  • Fetal distress
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fever
  • Brachial plexus
  • Cerebral palsy – brain damage
  • Shoulder dystocia

Cerebral Palsy is a term that describes a group of disorders that affect movement control. There is no one cause of cerebral palsy – it can be caused by injury to the brain – before, during or after birth.


Some of the group of disorders are:

  • Jaundice
  • Kidney or urinary tract infection in the mother during pregnancy
  • Viral infection or measles
  • Oxygen deprivation during delivery
  • Bleeding
  • Head injury
  • Bacterial meningitis
  • Viral encephalitis
  • Inadequate care during pregnancy


Some factors that suggest cerebral palsy occurred as a result of improper medical care or insult to the brain during the birthing process:

  • Seizures develop within 24-48 hours
  • Blue skin
  • Floppy
  • Infant needs resuscitation shortly after delivery because he is not breathing
  • Poor sucking after birth
  • No history of brain damage
  • Problems maintaining temperature after birth
  • Water was ruptured more than 24 hours
  • Meconium (fecal) staining on the body at the time of delivery
  • A baby full-term, but does not go home with the mother.

Erb’s Palsy, Brachial Plexus Palsy – This occurs when excessive lateral traction is applied to the fetal neck region during delivery. This can cause the child’s nerves to be torn resulting in a limp arm. Tearing of these nerves can cause permanent paralysis of the arm. The most common forms are:

  • Neuropraxia – child usually recovers without treatment. This is a stretching but not a tear of the nerve.
  • Neuroma – nerves are torn and try to heal themselves but leave scar tissue and the scar tissue exerts pressure on the nerve, disabling it.
  • Rupture occurs when stretching causes the nerve to tear at any point except at the spinal attachment.
  • Avulsion – when the nerve tears at the spinal attachment.
  • Surgery will improve rupture or avulsion.

Shoulder dystocia – This refers to a complication that can occur during the birth process. The shoulder is caught behind the pelvic bone of the mother. The baby is unable to breathe in this position. The first thing is to change the position of the mother to allow her pelvis region to open and the baby’s shoulder to pass through. There are several methods the doctor can employ to allow the shoulder to dislodge.

Common maneuvers are:

  • McRoberts Maneuver – flex mother’s legs toward shoulder; place pressure above the pubic bone to allow room for baby to shift.
  • Rotate the baby by using your hand to reach into the birth canal and turn the child.
  • Woods Maneuver – apply pressure to free shoulder in order to turn the baby’s body and release the trapped
  • Last resort – push baby back in and perform Caesarian Section.

Our Birth Injury Lawyers: We have offices conveniently located in Stroudsburg, Carbondale, Hamlin, Hazleton, Scranton, and Wilkes-Barre, PA. We have the benefit of the local presence within and knowledge of the local legal communities where medical malpractice matters are litigated. Our firm has built a reputation over 40 years in the courts within within Lackawana, Monroe, Schuylkill, Wayne, Luzerne, and Wyomingcounties. Our goal is to provide exceptional legal services to our clients.

If you or a loved one have been harmed by doctor error, medical malpractice, mishandled labor, or other form of medical negligence, you may have a medical malpractice claim. You could be eligible to receive compensation for the damages caused to your family. ‘The Family of Lawyers’ at Munley, Munley & Cartwright are experienced, and successful, medical malpractice litigators – we fight to protect the rights of patients


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