Birth Injury Statistics: How Common Are Birth Injuries?

By Seeking Justice | April 22, 2015 |


While injury can occur naturally during the course of a woman’s pregnancy, when she is in labor or in the delivery room, certain types of birth injuries are caused by medical negligence – a preventable error on the part of the doctor, nurse or other medical staff.

It is these types of preventable injuries for which parents may be entitled to file a medical malpractice lawsuit seeking financial compensation to help cover injury-related expenses, long-term care, pain and suffering, and other losses.

Birth injuries caused by medical negligence are far more common than most parents or expecting parents may realize.

Medical negligence and error can lead to birth injuries or fetal death in both vaginal deliveries and caesarean deliveries. According to birth injury prevalence and incidence statistics gathered by Right Diagnosis:


  • An estimated 7 out of every 1,000 children born in the United States are born with a birth injury.
  • Approximately 28,000 babies in the U.S. are born with birth injuries each year.
  • This breaks down to 2,333 people per month, 538 per week, 76 per day and 3 babies per hour being born with a birth injury
  • In total, 1 out of every 9,714 children in the U.S. is born with some type of birth injury

Data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) reveal the following:

  • Over one year’s time, almost 157,700 potentially avoidable injuries are sustained by mothers and children during childbirth.
  • The highest birth injury rates (160.5 deliveries per 1,000 births) involved vaginal births where instruments, such as forceps or vacuums, were used.
  • Newborn infants covered by Medicaid had an increased rate of birth injury as compared to infants covered by private insurance providers. The wealth of the communities in which the children were born had no bearing on rate of birth injuries.
  • The risk of obstetric injury or trauma being sustained by the mother during a vaginal birth where no instrument assistance was required fell over a six-year period from 51.7 to 36.2 deliveries per 1,000.

Out of the 418 fetal injuries sustained in 37,110 caesarean deliveries, an article in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology identified the most common fetal injuries in a caesarean delivery (C-section) as follows:


The C-section deliveries involving a failed attempt with forceps or a vacuum showed the highest rate of birth injuries at 6.9 percent. “T” or “J” uterine incisions were associated with 3.4 percent of fetal injuries, while vertical incisions accounted for 1.4 percent. In total, fetal injuries were sustained in 1.1 percent of caesarean deliveries studied.


An article in the British Medical Journal states that infants experience a lower risk of birth injury, neonatal seizures and the need for assisted ventilation when a vacuum is used in delivery rather than forceps. Risks associated with both forceps deliveries and vacuum deliveries include intracranial hemorrhage, retinal hemorrhage and feeding difficulties.

Legal Representation for Birth Injuries Caused by Medical Negligence

Nearly 50 percent of birth injuries are preventable when medical negligence comes into play. These injuries can have a devastating impact on the life of your child, and often result in a lifetime of costly medical treatments, therapies, assistive devices, lost earning potential and other expenses.

If your newborn child has sustained any type of birth injuries as a result of medical negligence, you should seek legal advice and find out about your right to seek compensation.


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