Childbirth can be a life-changing experience for expectant parents, and the day that their baby is born can be one of the most significant days of their lives. Unfortunately, some babies are born with pre-existing conditions known as birth defects, or they suffer harm during the birthing process and sustain a birth injury. These things can leave a child with a debilitating medical condition and, in some extreme cases, can even lead to death.
While these two terms can often be confused for one another, they mean very different things. In this article, we’ll take a look at the differences between a birth defect and a birth injury, as well as explore what causes them in the first place.
If your baby suffered from preventable birth injuries as a result of medical negligence, the Ohio and Kentucky birth injury lawyers at TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm are here to help. We aim to help victims of medical malpractice receive fair compensation for their injuries and hold negligent medical personnel responsible for their actions. Call us at (800) 698-4054 to schedule a free consultation with one of our birth injury lawyers today.
What is the Difference Between Birth Injuries and Birth Defects?
The main difference between a birth defect and a birth injury is when the condition develops. Birth defects typically develop well before the baby is born, and they can cause physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities, in addition to other health problems. Birth defects can range from mild to severe and while they are often incurable, many of them are treatable both before and after the baby’s birth.
Birth injuries, on the other hand, often occur before, during, and after the delivery process and cause a wide range of medical conditions. While some birth injuries are treatable and even curable, some birth injuries can damage vital parts of the child’s body, like their brain or nervous system, and leave them with developmental abnormalities and physical disabilities for the rest of their lives.
Common Birth Defects
Birth defects can come in many forms and can affect children in many different ways. For example, one birth defect may cause a child to suffer from a physical disability, whereas another could cause a child to suffer from an intellectual disability.
Some of the most common birth defects include:
- Neural tube defects;
- Cleft lip and cleft palate defects;
- Down syndrome;
- Muscular dystrophy;
- Spina bifida;
- Cystic Fibrosis; and
What are the Causes of Birth Defects?
Just as birth defects come in many different forms, they can also be caused by many different things. Some birth defects are genetic and can be caused by:
- Chromosomal abnormalities (having more or less chromosomes than normal);
- Single-gene defects; and
- Multifactoral influences (usually identified by trends among certain medical conditions).
Environmental factors like the health of the mother can also cause certain birth defects. Some environmental birth defect causes include exposure to:
- Toxic substances like lead, pesticides, alcohol, and drugs;
- Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications; and
- Certain viral infections.
Additionally, socioeconomic factors can increase the risk of birth defects through:
- A lack of prenatal care;
- A lack of access to healthy food;
- Increased likelihood of infection; and
- Increased risk of alcohol and illegal drug use.
Common Birth Injuries
There are many different types of preventable birth injuries that babies can suffer from, some of which include:
- Cerebral palsy;
- Erb’s palsy;
- Intracranial hemorrhage;
- Brain injuries as a result of asphyxia, like hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE);
- Perinatal stroke;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Facial paralysis;
- Skull fractures;
- Broken bones; and
- Wrongful death.
What are the Causes of Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries can be caused by various factors. Some of these causes include:
- The size of the baby;
- The position of the baby’s head in the birth canal;
- The shape and size of the mother’s pelvis; and
- The length of time the mother is in labor.
Unfortunately, many birth injuries are a result of a doctor’s negligence. Negligent labor and delivery professionals can cause birth injuries by:
- Failing to act quickly during the birthing process;
- Failing to diagnose certain conditions/problems;
- Failing to monitor the mother/child for signs of fetal distress;
- Failing to perform a C-Section;
- Misusing instruments like forceps or vacuum extractors;
- Using unnecessary force while assisting in the birthing process; and
- Using off-label medications for labor induction, like Cytotec.
Everyone makes mistakes; it’s part of what makes us human. When medical professionals make mistakes, however, they can cause serious physical and mental harm to the patients they are supposed to help. That’s why physicians, as well as nurses and midwives, can be held financially responsible for their actions in a medical malpractice case.
Even if the injury was not preventable, if the doctor failed to properly assess any risk factors present and the baby suffers from birth injuries as a result, the doctor may be liable for damages in a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit.
Can You Sue for Birth Defects?
In certain cases, you can sue negligent medical professionals for birth defects, but in general, you probably won’t be able to successfully sue for compensation. Many birth defects occur early on in pregnancy and are a result of non-preventable factors, so mothers of children with birth defects may not be able to sue labor and delivery personnel for damages.
There are, however, some cases in which doctors and nurses actually cause birth defects and can be held financially responsible for their mistakes. For example, if the birth defect could have been treated or prevented, then the medical professionals who failed to diagnose and treat the birth defect may be liable for damages. Additionally, if a doctor knows that a patient is pregnant and prescribes the patient a medication that’s known to cause birth defects, then the doctor may be found liable for any birth injuries that occur as a result.
Can You Sue for Birth Injuries?
Yes, if your baby suffered a birth injury as a result of medical negligence, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the medical staff that caused the injury. Preventable birth injuries can affect children and their families in physical, emotional, and financial ways, so when doctors and nurses breach their duty of care towards their patients, they should be held responsible.
If you want to pursue legal action against the person or people who caused your child’s birth injury, you’ll want an experienced legal team on your side. With over 50 years of experience serving Ohio and Kentucky residents, you can trust the legal professionals at TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm to handle your case with the care and consideration it deserves.
Call us toll-free at (800) 698-4054 and schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced birth injury attorney on our team today.
Birth Injury Damages
If you believe your child’s condition was the result of medical negligence, you may be able to receive compensation for:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost wages;
- Future medical treatments;
- Assistive care;
- Assistive medical equipment;
- Physical therapy;
- Speech therapy;
- Emotional anguish;
- Permanent disability; and
- Funeral and burial expenses.
Trust the Medical Malpractice Attorneys at TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm To Handle Your Birth Injury Lawsuit
While most birth defects are unavoidable, birth injuries are entirely preventable. To add insult to injury, some of these birth injuries can have devastating effects on newborns as well as their families. For example, prolonged oxygen deprivation can leave a child with a life-long medical condition like cerebral palsy.
If your child suffered from a birth injury caused by a medical professional’s negligence, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice case. At TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm, our legal professionals are experienced in handling medical malpractice and birth injury cases, so you can rest easy knowing we have what it takes to help you with your personal injury case. Call us toll-free at (800) 698-4054 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our birth injury lawyers today.