Before birth a baby gets oxygen from its mother's placenta via the blood in the umbilical cord. After birth it gets oxygen from its own lungs by breathing. Difficulties during labour can cause a delay between the umbilical cord oxygen supply stopping and breathing starting. The baby then becomes short of oxygen (birth asphyxia). This can be immediately fatal. If not fatal, birt asphyxia can cause brain damage resulting in poor control of some muscles including in the arms, the legs and muscles used in speech (cerebral palsy or spastic paralysis). Brain damage can also impair learning ability (mental retardation) or cause fits (epilepsy) or deafness. Eye problems can cause blindness.
Birth trauma are injuries to the baby that occur during the process of birth. These can also cause brain damage by causing bleeding inside the skull and from skull fractures. The brain damage can be fatal or cause cerebral palsy (spastic paresis).
Birth asphyxia and birth trauma caused 1.3% of all deaths worldwide in 2002, an average of 116 deaths per million people per year.