Birth injuries can be any type of injury or trauma that is sustained during the labor process. Birth injuries can range in severity from mild bruising to life threatening infections or brain damage. Some birth injuries may be easy to spot, but others may be subtle or may take time to identify. It is important for parents to be alert for birth injury symptoms, especially if there were complications during the labor process. Early detection and treatment may help to prevent birth injuries from causing lifelong struggles for a child.
Immediately Evident Birth Injury Symptoms
Right after a baby is born, certain birth injury symptoms may manifest immediately. These symptoms can be an indication of brain damage or other injury. Some symptoms may also be common to other health issues unrelated to birth injuries, so it is important to have the baby medically examined if any of the following symptoms are present.
Symptoms that indicate birth injuries which may be evident shortly after birth include:
- Abnormal levels of sleepiness
- Problems sleeping
- Nausea or excessive vomiting
- Extreme light sensitivity
- Crying for long periods of time
- Fussiness that cannot be explained
- Complications with eating and swallowing
- Back arched while crying
- Breathing difficulties
- Distorted facial features
- Abnormally large forehead
- Irregular spine shape or posture
Health Related Birth Injury Symptoms
After taking an infant home and monitoring behavior and health for a short time, certain health issues may become apparent. In some cases, these health complications may be related to birth injuries. However, there are many other factors that may cause the same health issues in newborns, so it is important to discuss all possibilities with health professionals. If there is a high risk for birth injuries, physicians should be informed of the risk so that the necessary testing can be done. If symptoms are caused by birth injuries, there will typically be several different symptoms present at the same time.
Health complications that may indicate birth injuries can include:
- Wheezing or persistent coughing
- Inability to gain or retain weight
- Complications with hearing or vision
- Pale or waxy skin
Muscle Birth Injury Symptoms
The way that a baby lies or sits, the positioning of hands, and other issues to do with the baby’s muscles may indicate birth injuries. If an infant seems to favor one side of the body, has frequent muscle spasms, or seems to have weak reflexes, these things may indicate a neurological problem. Babies may also curl the hands or arms towards the body or show indications of stiffness or looseness in the muscles.
Developmental Birth Injury Symptoms
Watching developmental milestones can be helpful in spotting development issues that may signify birth injuries. Babies that are two to four months old should be responding to noise and should be able to follow people and objects with the eyes. Babies of that age should also be able to grasp objects and recognize faces. Poor coordination or an inability to reach these milestones may be signs of physical impairments or brain damage.
Early Milestone Indicators
By the time babies reach the age of nine months old, there should be indications of interest in the outside world and an increase in independent movement. Crawling, sitting up alone, and bouncing with assistance are common signs of healthy development. Babies should also begin to understand certain words and try or successfully say some words. A lack of interest or inability to reach these milestones may be signs of birth injury complications.
Milestone Indicators during Toddler Years
From the ages of one to five babies may learn at slightly different paces, but generally come to a similar development level after that time. During these years, toddlers generally learn to walk, speak, follow simple instructions, learn name and basic information, and learn to eat and drink without assistance. A failure to achieve these milestones by the age of five may reveal a developmental issue, including birth injury complications.
School Years Brain Injury Symptoms
Many birth injuries are not revealed until after the child reaches school age. This is when disorders that were caused by birth injuries, such as Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, and autism, may become apparent. Though these cognitive disorders may not always be caused by birth injuries, studies have shown a correlation between birth complications and these particular disorders.
“Birth Complications and Autism.” Autism Speaks. Autism Speak Inc, 11 July 2011. Web. 20 Jan. 2015. <http://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/birth-complications-and-autism>
“Symptoms of Birth Injury.” Right Diagnosis. Health Grades, 17 June 2014. Web. 20 Jan. 2015. <http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/b/birth_injury/symptoms.htm>
“Symptoms of Infant Brain Damage.” Birth Injury Guide. Birth Injury Guide, 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 20 Jan. 2015. <http://www.birthinjuryguide.org/brain-damage/symptoms/>