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3 catastrophic brain injuries that may occur during birth

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2024 | Brain Injuries

When expectant mothers get into a delivery room, they generally go there hopeful that the birth process will be smooth and without complications, leading to the safe arrival of their precious babies into the world. However, negligence on the part of medical professionals or unforeseen circumstances can lead to injuries during birth, profoundly impacting both a child and their family for a lifetime.

Brain injuries are among the life-altering injuries that can occur during birth, and they may include the following.

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)

In cases of difficult or prolonged labor, the baby may experience oxygen deprivation leading to hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). This condition occurs when there is a lack of oxygenated blood flow to the baby’s brain, resulting in brain damage. HIE can have devastating consequences including cognitive impairments, motor dysfunction and lifelong disabilities.

Cystic encephalomalacia

Another catastrophic brain injury that can happen during birth is cystic encephalomalacia. This condition occurs when there is extensive brain damage leading to the formation of cysts or cavities within the brain tissue. Cystic encephalomalacia can result from various factors during birth, including trauma, oxygen deprivation or improper use of delivery instruments such as forceps or vacuum extractors.


Trauma to the infant’s head during delivery can lead to hydrocephalus, another catastrophic brain injury that may occur during birth. This condition arises when there is an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within the brain’s ventricles leading to increased intracranial pressure. Excessive force or compression during the birthing process can disrupt the normal flow or absorption of CSF, contributing to the development of hydrocephalus.

Obstetricians are expected to provide a high standard of care to ensure the safety and well-being of both mother and baby during the birthing process. If your child has suffered brain injury as a result of professional negligence, you may be entitled to seek legal recourse and pursue compensation to cover the costs of medical expenses, ongoing care, therapy and other related damages.