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8 Signs of a Birth Injury



The birth of a child marks one of life’s most precious moments, an event filled with hope and joy. However, for some families, the initial joy can be accompanied by concern when their newborns exhibit signs of trauma related to the delivery process. Birth injuries can range from nerve damage to oxygen deprivation, potentially impacting a child’s development. Recognizing these symptoms early is of high importance, as it can lead to prompt treatment and significantly improve a child’s chances of overcoming the challenges posed by these injuries. In this article, we will explore eight common red flags, varying from subtle indicators to more severe symptoms, that parents should be vigilant about, ensuring that their newborns receive the necessary care and support to thrive.

1.    Abnormal Breathing Patterns

Hearing your newborn exhibit strained or unusual breathing should raise a red flag. Listen for grunting as it exhales or an abnormally high-pitched cry, which could signal problems. Labored breathing may indicate respiratory distress from oxygen deprivation during delivery. Any breathing concerns in a baby, especially with bluish skin or lethargy, require urgent evaluation. Do not wait – alert medical staff right away about any worrisome symptoms so proper treatment can begin immediately. Proper respiratory support in the first moments of life is crucial. If you suspect negligence during labor caused harm, birth injury law firms like Sokolove Law can advise you on options to hold the responsible party accountable. But first, focus on getting your baby the urgent care they need.

2.    Excessive Drooling

Seeing some drooling is normal for newborns, but excessive nonstop dripping could potentially indicate an underlying issue. Uncontrolled drooling beyond the typical amount may suggest an injury, such as damage to the facial nerves affecting swallowing. If your baby experiences constant drooling without improvement over time, inform your pediatrician. Excessive drooling needs to be evaluated further, as it could reflect an injury or condition requiring treatment. Don’t assume it is normal or will resolve on its own.

3.    Feeding Difficulties

Trouble with feeding can also be a warning sign of potential birth trauma. If a baby cannot properly latch on or suck, nursing and bottle feeding become challenging. Uncoordinated swallowing raises the risk of aspirating milk into the delicate lungs. Abnormal muscle floppiness or rigidity further hampers the development of feeding skills. If efforts to improve positioning and latch still result in feeding issues, consult a specialist to assess for oral-motor dysfunction. Early feeding therapy is key to help compensate and build skills. Prompt support prevents complications and ensures babies get the nutrition they need in spite of difficulties.

4.    Muscle Tone Irregularities

When it comes to your newborn’s muscle tone, it’s essential to be on the lookout for any irregularities. Abnormalities in muscle stiffness or floppiness should raise a red flag. Hypertonia, characterized by a high tone, can restrict a baby’s normal movements, making it difficult for them to control their head and limbs properly. On the other hand, hypotonia, or low tone, can hinder a baby’s ability to develop these essential motor skills. While it’s true that muscle tone typically improves in the weeks following birth as newborns naturally strengthen, persistent irregularities can indicate an underlying spinal cord or brain injury that requires specialized treatment. In such cases, physical and occupational therapy can play a vital role in addressing hypertonia or hypotonia, with customized activities tailored to the specific tone condition to maximize progress.

5.    Seizures in Newborns

Witnessing seizures in a newborn is understandably frightening for parents. However, seizures right after birth are fairly common with certain injuries. Oxygen deprivation during labor and delivery causes brain abnormalities that disrupt normal electrical firing patterns. If your baby experiences recurring or uncontrolled seizures, promptly seek emergency care. This urgent response aims to stabilize the child, prevent ongoing brain damage, and identify the underlying injury. Long-term anti-seizure medications combined with prompt, comprehensive treatment greatly improve outcomes.

6.    Weak Reflexes and Clenched Fists

In your vigilant observation of your newborn, pay close attention to their reflex responses and hand movements. Typically, strong and symmetrical reflex reactions on both sides of the body signify healthy nerve development. However, if you notice that your baby’s reflexes are absent or significantly weaker than expected, it might be indicative of nerve damage resulting from birth trauma. Another important detail to consider is whether your baby often keeps their tiny hands tightly clenched in fists. This protective posture can be a sign of discomfort, suggesting there may be underlying issues that need investigation. In such cases, it’s crucial to discuss any concerns about irregular reflexes or hand movements with your pediatrician promptly. Early evaluation and treatment can make a significant difference in addressing potential birth injuries and ensuring your child’s healthy development.

7.    Sensitivity to Light (Photophobia)

If your newborn exhibits extreme sensitivity to light, this warrants medical attention. While squinting initially is normal, excessive light avoidance signals a problem. Babies should naturally respond to light, not recoil and squeeze their eyes excessively. This extreme photophobia or light sensitivity may indicate visual impairment or specific damage to the optic nerves or eyes themselves. Promptly have your child’s vision thoroughly assessed to pinpoint the cause and map out a recommended treatment plan for overcoming the light issues.

8.    Head Shape Abnormalities

Closely inspecting your baby’s head shape can catch other potential signs of injury. Flattened areas on one side of the skull or oddly pointed head shape may reflect abnormal molding of the soft bones during delivery. Plagiocephaly and brachycephaly are common conditions requiring prompt helmet therapy to prevent lasting asymmetry. Misshaping of the skull could also possibly indicate traumatic pressure on the brain itself. Keep an eye out for cranial deformities or asymmetry, and run any findings by your pediatrician. Early treatment for skull shape optimizes results.


Picking up on potential birth injury signs swiftly allows treatment to begin immediately for the best possible outcome. While any symptoms are understandably frightening, remember most babies make remarkable developmental gains with supportive therapies and care. Working closely with your medical providers and promptly voicing any concerns is key. Do not delay seeking answers or early intervention services. With dedicated support, children have amazing potential to overcome challenges and reach their full capabilities.

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