Descriptive epidemiology of birth trauma in the United States in 2003

Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2010 Mar;24(2):116-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3016.2009.01077.x.


The rate of birth trauma in the US has been reported to range between 0.2 and 37 birth traumas per 1000 births. Because of the minimal number of population-based studies and the inconsistencies among the published birth trauma rates, the rate of birth trauma in the US remains unclear. This is a cross-sectional study that was conducted using 890 582 in-hospital birth discharges from the 2003 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Kids' Inpatient Database. A neonate was defined as having birth trauma if their hospital discharge record contained an International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification diagnosis code from 767.0 to 767.9. Weighted data were used to calculate rates for all birth traumas and specific types of birth traumas, and rates and odds ratios by demographic, hospital and clinical variables. Weighted data represented a national estimate of 3 920 787 in-hospital births. Birth trauma was estimated to occur in 29 per 1000 births. The three most frequently diagnosed birth traumas were injuries to the scalp, other injuries to the skeleton and fracture of the clavicle. Significant univariable predictors for birth trauma included male gender, Asian or Pacific Islander race, living in urban or wealthy areas, being born in Western, urban and/or teaching hospital, a co-diagnosis of high birthweight, instrument delivery, malpresentation and other complications during labour and delivery. Birth trauma risk factors including those identified in this study may be useful to consider during labour and delivery. In conclusion, additional research is necessary to identify ways to reduce birth trauma and subsequent infant morbidity and mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Birth Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Birth Injuries / ethnology
  • Birth Weight
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery, Obstetric / methods
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Urban Population