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5 Common Birth Injury Risk Factors

Posted in [Blog Medical Negligence ] on Thursday, October 6th, 2022

While childbirth is not without risk, with the right standard of care, birth injuries can be prevented.


What is a Birth Injury?

A Birth Injury is any type of physical, emotional or traumatic injury experienced by the mother or child before, during or immediately after the birthing process.

Birth injuries vary in severity from, for example, light bruising to irreversible life altering injuries. Cerebral Palsy (CP), damage to the brachial plexus, facial injuries and bone breaks are some of the most common birth injuries.

There are factors that can increase the risk of a Birth Injury occurring, such as the following.


  1. Delivery

 During labour, generally speaking, midwifes monitor foetal positioning (the position of the baby) ahead of delivery. How the baby is positioned impacts the length and ease of the labour, and the risk level.

The ideal foetal positioning is known as ‘occiput anterior’. In this position, the baby is head-down, facing the mother’s back, with the chin tucked in. ‘Occiput posterior’ position is similar, but the baby is turned around facing the mother’s abdomen. The latter position can cause problems at birth.

As well as increased pain in the mother’s lower back, delivery of an occiput posterior baby can take considerably longer.  A longer delivery adds a risk of oxygen deprivation for the baby. Babies in this position are also significantly more likely to require an emergency caesarean section (c-section).

While many women deliver safely via c-section, it is major surgery and there are associated risks. According to HSE, risks include wound infection, bleeding, scarring, pain and deep vein thrombosis caused by blood clots.  There are some risks to the baby too, such as cuts, temporary breathing problems.


  1. Pregnancy Complications

 During pregnancy, a woman may experience pregnancy-related complications. In turn, these can increase the risk of birth injuries.

Preeclampsia is one of the more common pregnancy complications. Preeclampsia is a complication that causes the mother’s blood pressure to rise dangerously during pregnancy and sometimes after delivery. Without treatment, preeclampsia can be fatal.

Diabetes that develops during pregnancy is known as gestational diabetes and is not isolated to people who have experienced diabetes previously. Any pregnant woman can develop gestational diabetes. The risks associated with gestational diabetes include foetal macrosomia and high blood sugar in the baby. Both can largely be avoided with proper medical treatment and care.


  1. The Size of the Baby

 The size of a baby can impact the risk of birth injuries for the mum and baby. Larger babies can get stuck and struggle with oxygen supply during labour.  A lack of oxygen can lead to a brain injury and development delays after birth. Most maternity hospitals have procedures for delivering babies over a certain size. The options, and risks associated with these options, such as caesarean section, should be discussed with the mother ahead of the delivery. Large babies have higher incidences of vaginal tears.

Premature babies (born before 37 weeks) are at increased risk of birth injury due to their fragility. This is equally true of babies who are full-term but below the normal average delivery weight. Smaller and premature babies are also at risk of infection, haemorrhages and cerebral palsy.


  1. CTG Monitoring

 Cardiotocography (CTG) is a continuous electronic record of the baby’s heart rate. It is important that the heart rate of the baby be monitored and if there are concerns about the baby’s heart rate, that they are acted upon by having the delivery expedited.


  1. Mother’s Lifestyle and Medical Conditions

 There are many factors that can increase the risk of birth injuries that are not directly related to pregnancy. These include the mother’s lifestyle and any medical conditions that existed pre-pregnancy. A mother’s age can also have some impact on the risk level, with older mothers being at increased risk.

Lifestyle factors that can increase the risk of birth injury include smoking, drinking alcohol and recreational drug use. The latter can increase the risk of stillbirth and brain development while smoking can lead to birth defects. Drinking alcohol while pregnant can increase the risk of the baby being born with foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).


What To Do If You or Your Child Experienced a Birth Injury

If you believe that a preventable birth injury to you or your baby has occurred talk to our experienced team of Birth Injury solicitors.

Contact us at Cantillons Solicitors at Cork  +353 (0)21 4275673 or Dublin +353 (0)1 264 1802 or email  if you would like more information.

* In contentious business, a Solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. Many Personal Injury Solicitors portray themselves as “no win no fee Solicitors Cork” or “no win no fee Solicitors Dublin”. This term can be misleading and it is essential that you discuss fees with the Medical Negligence Solicitor you ultimately choose. At Cantillons Solicitors, we are entirely transparent

Lyndy Cantillon



Lyndy qualified as a Solicitor in 2014 and since then has been working in the medical litigation department at Cantillons. Lyndy has worked extensively in cases involving birth injuries, cancer misdiagnosis, surgical errors and fatal claims. Lyndy works hard and as a result of this has had great success in this field. Lyndy understands the physical and mental stress her clients have been through before they come to Cantillons with their query and she encourages her clients to leave their stresses with her.

Qualifications / Assocciations

Lyndy achieved a Bachelor of Arts degree at University College Cork with a degree in Art History and Italian. Thereafter she went on to study for the FE1 entrance examinations and successfully passed all eight exams. Lyndy took an apprenticeship at Cantillons and got experience in general litigation, medical litigation, probate and commercial litigation. Lyndy qualified as a Solicitor on 2014 and has been working in the medical litigation department since then.

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