Part 1: early recognition and treatment of birth trauma: injuries to the head and face

Adv Neonatal Care. 2005 Dec;5(6):288-97; quiz 298-300. doi: 10.1016/j.adnc.2005.09.001.


The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) Sentinel Event Alert from July 21, 2004 states that there have been 47 cases of birth trauma-related perinatal death or permanent disability reported for JCAHO review since 1996. This report clearly illustrates the importance of birth trauma in clinical practice for neonatal and perinatal nurses. Estimates suggest that birth trauma occurs in 2% to 7% of all deliveries and is associated with an increase in both mortality and morbidity. Birth trauma to the head may result in minor superficial extracranial injuries, such as caput succedaneum and cephalohematoma, or more serious and potentially life threatening lesions such as subgaleal hemorrhages. The potential for deeper intracranial injury, such as subarachnoid or subdural hemorrhage exists; these may be isolated or associated with skull fractures and/or other extracranial injuries. Injury to the eye, nasal structures, and paralysis of the vocal cords may also result from birth trauma during a difficulty delivery. Part 1 of this 2-part article will focus on birth injuries to the head and face. Part 2 of the series will review more systemic birth injuries that may involve abdominal organs, the spine and skeletal system, and peripheral and facial nerves.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Birth Injuries* / diagnosis
  • Birth Injuries* / therapy
  • Craniocerebral Trauma* / diagnosis
  • Craniocerebral Trauma* / therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Facial Injuries / diagnosis
  • Facial Injuries / therapy
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / diagnosis
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / therapy
  • Risk Factors
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / diagnosis
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / therapy