What’s the Difference Between a Birth Injury and a Birth Defect?
When a person learns they’re expecting a child, one of the biggest concerns they have is that their child will be healthy. Expectant mothers will often go to great lengths to stay healthy during pregnancy so that their children have the best chance at a healthy start in life. In the majority of cases, all those efforts pay off and the baby is born without injury or illness.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for thousands of babies born every year. It’s estimated that approximately 5 out of every 1,000 babies born in the United States suffers from a birth injury and about 7% of all babies are born with some type of a birth defect. While it might seem like the terms “birth injury” and “birth defect” mean the same thing, it’s important to note there are some big distinctions between the two.
Birth defects are congenital defects which form during pregnancy. Birth defects are commonly detected before labor and delivery, although in some cases, a birth defect might not actually show itself until after delivery. Some common types of birth defects include cleft palates, heart defects, spina bifida, and Down syndrome. Birth defects are very frequently caused by genetic abnormalities, but they can also be caused by exposure to certain types of medication.
Birth injuries are injuries that are injuries that occur during labor, delivery, or immediately after delivery. While some types of birth injuries are unavoidable, they’re very often caused by some form of medical malpractice, such as a failure to monitor fetal or maternal health, not acting quickly enough when there were signs of fetal distress, or improper use of birth-assisting tools. Many types of birth injuries are caused when the infant doesn’t get enough oxygen during delivery. Although some birth injuries are easy to detect right away, some birth injuries might not begin to show themselves until months or even years after birth.
Birth defects and injuries can both range in severity from being relatively minor things that can be corrected with surgery or therapy to more severe injuries that can cause serious, lifelong effects. However, even a minor birth injury or defect can be very stressful and upsetting for the parents to deal with because of the additional surgeries and doctor visits.
If your child has a birth defect or injury, it’s important to contact a birth trauma lawyer as soon as possible to find out what your legal options are. Since many types of birth injuries are caused by medical negligence, your doctor or hospital may be liable for your child’s injuries. Even if your child has a birth defect, you could still have some legal options open to you. For example, if you were prescribed a medication which hadn’t been approved as being safe to take during pregnancy, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the doctor who prescribed it. Or if the pharmaceutical company that manufactured the medication failed to adequately warn doctors of potentially dangerous side effects, you could have a case against the drug’s manufacturer. A lawyer will be able to help you determine liability for your child’s injury.