Infant Skull Fracture Causes | Medical Malpractice


An infant’s skull can be fractured during or immediately following delivery, resulting in significant pain and suffering. Skull fractures during childbirth can also cause other medical problems, including traumatic brain injuries and lasting brain damage. If your child’s skull was fractured during delivery because of a doctor’s or another medical provider’s negligence, you might have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim. For example, improperly using labor-assistive devices like vacuum extractors or forceps can cause an infant to suffer skull fractures. A child injury lawyer at Raynes & Lawn can review your case and help you understand the legal remedies that might be available. Here is some information about the causes of infant skull fractures and what can be done to prevent them.

Causes of Infant Skull Fractures

In many cases, infant skull fractures during delivery are caused by the improper use of medical instruments. These types of instruments are likelier to be used during a difficult birth. Skull fractures are more common with difficult labor, prolonged labor, or other issues such as a breech presentation or an unusually large infant. When a doctor improperly uses forceps or a vacuum extractor, the bones of the infant’s skull can easily be fractured because of excessive force. A doctor might be liable for malpractice if an infant’s skull is fractured because of the doctor using excessive force or when he or she should have performed an emergency C-section but failed to do so.

An infant’s skull can be fractured if he or she is dropped following birth. Skull fractures can also sometimes occur spontaneously and not be the result of malpractice. However, this is fairly rare and why this might occur is not well understood. Spontaneous skull fractures might happen because of the pressure placed on the baby’s head while going through the birth canal.

Types of Infant Skull Fractures

There are four types of skull fractures that can happen in infants, including linear fractures, depressed skull fractures, diastatic fractures, and basilar fractures. Linear fractures occur when there is a break but the bones are still properly aligned. In a depressed skull fracture, the bones of the skill are pressed in due to the force applied to the outside of the baby’s head. Diastatic skull fractures are breaks along the skull’s suture lines where the bones of the skull will eventually fuse. Basilar fractures are breaks at the skull’s base.

Symptoms of an Infant Skull Fracture

The symptoms an infant might show following a skull fracture will depend on the type of fracture, the severity of any resulting brain damage, and the location of the fracture on the skull. Some of the possible symptoms that a baby might show include the following:

  • Seizures
  • Bleeding from the ear
  • Clear fluid coming out of the nose
  • Visible bruises, cuts, bumps, or dents on the head
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Paralysis on a portion of the body
  • Bruising behind the ear or around the eyes
  • Bulging soft spot

Diagnosis and Treatment of Infant Skull Fractures

Diagnostic tests are used when infant skull fractures are suspected to determine its location, the type of fracture, and the severity of the damage. Some of the tests a doctor might order include blood tests, magnetic resonance imaging, x-rays, computed tomography scans, or electroencephalograms.

How an infant skull fracture will be treated will depend on its type, nature, and severity. If the brain is not involved, observation and monitoring might be sufficient.
Severe injuries might require surgery, breathing assistance, sedation, and monitoring for increases in the intracranial pressure caused by brain swelling.

Skull Fractures and Medical Malpractice

Infants who suffer skull fractures and severe injuries might require extensive medical care, therapy, and rehabilitation. Some babies might live with lifelong disabilities. Injuries to the brain from a severe skull fracture can result in difficulty speaking, hearing loss, vision loss, inability to taste, intellectual impairments, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and motor dysfunction.

When infants suffer skull fractures because of the negligence of doctors, nurses, midwives, or other medical providers, there might be valid grounds to file medical malpractice claims. A lawsuit might allow you to recover compensation for the losses that you and your baby have incurred and might continue to incur in the future.

To prove a medical malpractice case involving an infant skull fracture, you must present evidence showing that the medical provider’s treatment fell below the accepted standard of care and that the deviation from the standard of care caused your infant’s injuries. A birth trauma attorney can work

with a medical expert to review what happened and determine whether the medical provider negligently caused your baby’s injuries.


If you prevail in a medical malpractice lawsuit, you might be able to recover the following types of compensation:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future rehabilitation costs
  • Past and future therapy costs
  • Any other out-of-pocket expenses caused by the malpractice
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

Infants who suffer skull fractures might suffer permanent disabilities. Some children will require ongoing rehabilitation, therapy, and other interventions to address delays. Each case is different, so how well your baby might recover will depend on multiple factors. Recovering damages helps to pay for all of the interventions your child might need.

Speak to a Birth Trauma Attorney at Raynes & Lawn

If your baby suffered a skull fracture during or immediately following birth because of a medical provider’s negligence, you should speak to the attorneys at Raynes & Lawn. We can review your case and talk about the legal options that might be available to you on behalf of your child. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation by calling us at 1-800-535-1797.



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