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How do you distinguish between birth defects and birth injuries?

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

The birth of a healthy baby is one of the most wonderful events of a parent’s life. Usually, births go as planned and without incident. However, occasionally complications can arise during labor and delivery that pose a significant risk to the baby and mother and may also result in injury.

Causes of Birth injuries

Most birth injuries can be attributed to one of two things. Either, a doctor fails to adequately provide care for the mother and infant or care received during the prenatal months resulted in injury. In both scenarios, a child may be born with birth injuries or defects as a result of something that happens prior to their birth.

It can be difficult to identify the underlying cause of an injury or birth defect. However, knowing the difference between birth injuries and birth defects may help parents correctly identify injuries sustained as a result of negligence and seek compensation for their child’s injuries.

Many Birth Injuries Occur During Labor and Delivery

Birth injuries most commonly occur during the labor and delivery process. In the U.S., roughly 5 in every 1000 babies born will be injured during this process. These injuries can be a result of dangerous medical techniques, the incorrect use of labor and delivery devices or a doctor’s failure to respond to a fetus in distress in a timely manner. This is not to say that every birth injury is due to one of those three causes. If a doctor uses reasonable judgments and competent skill and a birth injury still occurs, it could be said that the birth injury is not a result of negligence.

Understanding Birth Defects

In contrast to birth injuries, birth defects are usually the result of something that happened to the fetus prior to labor and delivery. In fact, some 7 percent of babies born suffer some type of birth defect. Defects can be the result of environmental, chemical, or hereditary influences and may range anywhere from minor to extremely severe.

Parents with questions regarding their child’s health or injuries sustained during the labor and delivery process may benefit by speaking to a skilled birth injury attorney. With their help, parents may be able to identify if their child’s condition is the result of a birth injury or birth defect.

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