Symptoms of a Birth Injury: What Parents Should Look For

Call 410-941-3416 for a free medical malpractice consultation

Over $600 million in
verdicts & settlements
for our clients.





Accouting Malpractice




Gas Leak




Business Fraud





Birth injuries in newborn babies range from severe and immediately detectable to mild and hard to diagnose. These birth injuries and their causes differ in several ways and can result in a variety of symptoms. While some of these symptoms are obvious right away, others don’t show till later as the baby develops. 

Many birth injuries occur due to medical malpractice or negligence. If your baby is showing symptoms of a birth injury, reach out to Weltchek Mallahan and Weltchek for a free case evaluation to learn your legal options.

Immediate Symptoms of a Birth Injury

Some symptoms of a birth injury present themselves immediately after birth. While not all of the following symptoms indicate a type of birth injury, they are important indications of damage that may have happened at birth. The early signs of a birth injury include:

  • Abrasions, bruises, or swelling on the infant’s face, head or shoulders
  • A floppy appearance to indicate lack of muscle tone
  • Requirement for resuscitation at birth
  • Failure to breathe immediately after delivery
  • Development of seizure within 48 hours of delivery
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty suckling

Birth Injury Symptoms That Develop Later

The severity of some birth injury symptoms may not be obvious for a year or longer. Examples of symptoms that don’t show up until a child gets older are:

  • An inability to crawl, walk or sit up
  • Muscle and joint stiffness or looseness
  • Weak or absent reflexes
  • Trouble performing basic movements like clapping or grasping
  • Low memory retention
  • Muscle spasms
  • Poor coordination

Brain Injury in Birth Symptoms

Medical negligence during childbirth often leads to brain damage to the baby. Using a vacuum extractor without proper training can result in brain bleeding and, eventually, shock. Symptoms of a bleeding brain include swollen ears and neck. 

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a developmental disability caused by brain injury. It is a prevalent condition sometimes caused by medical malpractice. Once the uterus ruptures or the umbilical cord wraps around the baby’s throat, the infant lacks oxygen.

This kind of medical error leads to asphyxia and, eventually, cerebral palsy.  

The signs of cerebral palsy in a baby include:

  • Difficulty eating
  • Excessive drooling
  • Delayed or missed developmental milestones lie rolling over, sitting, or standing
  • Stiffness
  • Awkward (spastic) movements
  • Vision and hearing impairment
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills

Earlier symptoms noticeable in an infant is the head flopping to one side or back, unusual floppiness or stiffness when holding the baby, and scissoring leg movements.

Skull Fracture

Skull fracture is another potential yet a rare type of birth injury. Though dangerous, skull fractures are mild and show no symptoms but may cause complications later. With severe skull fractures, visible signs include:

  • A lump or indentation on the head
  • Seizures
  • Bleeding
  • Bruising          
  • Unexplained listlessness

Nerve Injury in Birth Symptoms

Babies often suffer severe nerve damage during delivery, sometimes due to negligence from a health care professional. Medical errors like applying too much force while removing a baby from the birth canal can cause damage to the brachial plexus.

The brachial plexus is a bunch of neck nerves that allow feeling to the fingers, arms, hands, and shoulders. 

Brachial Plexus Injury

The amount of damage caused to the brachial plexus dictates the symptoms a baby may show, including:

  • Lack of arm movement to indicate partial or complete paralysis
  • Limited range of motion
  • Numbness or weakness in one arm

Erb’s palsy is a brachial plexus injury that results in loss of arm movement and arm weakness. Another type of brachial plexus injury is Klumpke’s palsy, which weakens the hands and wrists. Its symptoms include:

  • Atrophy of the hand and wrist
  • Limpness or paralysis of the arm 
  • Tightened fingers and wrist

Developmental Delays or Missed Milestones

Missing certain developmental milestones is one of the obvious symptoms of birth injury. At two months, your baby should:

  • Follow objects with their eyes
  • Make smoother leg and arm movements
  • Turn their heads toward sounds
  • Make gurgling noises
  • Smile at people

At six months, your baby should have hit the following milestones:

  • Responding to other’s emotions
  • Rocking backward and forth
  • Passing objects from one hand to the other
  • Sitting without support
  • Recognizing familiar faces

The following are some of the milestones you should notice by one year of age:

  • Trying to talk
  • Pulling themselves up
  • Standing on their own and taking a few steps
  • Walking with support
  • Waving

What to Do if Your Child Shows Birth Injury Symptoms

A girl witha  brth injury ion a classroom for special needs kids.
A little girl in a wheelchair telling her secret to plush bear.

If you notice or suspect that anything might be wrong with your child, you should inform your healthcare provider immediately. Early diagnosis and management of birth injury symptoms can save your child many complications in the future.

As not all birth injuries have a cure or treatment, early detection allows for early intervention. It offers a solution for educational and cognitive impairments. Immediate diagnosis and care help your child live a manageable life. 

However, if you suspect malpractice or negligence involved in your child’s birth injury, the next step should be contacting a birth injury attorney. Find out if you have any legal grounds for your suspicion and what you can do to find justice and compensation. 

FAQs About Symptoms of a Birth Injury

Q: How does a doctor check if a baby is alright after delivery?

A: Doctors perform a test known as the Apgar score right after delivery to check the baby’s muscle tone, heart rate, respiration, skin color, and reflexes. The test happens twice within a five-minute interval to evaluate the baby’s condition immediately after birth and how the baby is doing outside the womb. 

Q: When should I contact a lawyer after noticing symptoms of birth injury?

A: If you notice birth injury symptoms in your baby, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. The statute of limitations dictates that you can only file a lawsuit before it passes. Otherwise, the court can dismiss it regardless of the strength your lawsuit holds. Different states hold different statutes of limitations.

Look Out for Symptoms of a Birth Injury

It is vital to seek immediate attention from a medical professional if you notice any birth injury symptoms. Even without an official diagnosis, Weltchek Mallahan and Weltchek may still be of help.

At no out-of-pocket cost, our in-house team of registered nurses will listen and help you figure out what may have happened to your baby. Contact us for a free legal case review of your medical malpractice lawsuit.

Who Can You Trust with Your Case?

Have you or a loved one been injured due to negligence? We want to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you believe you have a case; time is an important factor. Interested in learning more? Get in touch with us so we can better evaluate and serve your needs in getting the justice your loved one deserves. You may very well be entitled to compensation.


Call For a Free Consultation


Exceptional Peer Recognition

True mavericks in the field of trial advocacy.