What is the difference between a birth defect and a birth injury?
Birth defects and birth injuries have one overarching commonality: the ability to dramatically affect the overall health, well-being, and quality of life in a newborn infant. Despite having that in common, there are stark differences between the two that should be distinguished. You should know the difference not only for your own knowledge and understanding, but in the event such an injury or defect was caused by the medical negligence of a doctor or medical care physician.Birth Defects
Birth defects are more or less a product of nature. Even without any negligent medical care, there is a possibility that an infant may be born with a birth defect. Thus, when we talk about a birth defect, we are discussing a physical or biochemical abnormality that may be caused by the infant's overall environment, or inherited from parents.
Typically, birth defects occur during the developmental stages of pregnancy. One-third of all babies born in the United States suffer from some form of birth defect.Birth Injuries
A birth injury differs from a birth defect in many ways. Many birth injuries are caused by asphyxia, a condition that arises when the flow of oxygen to the brain is cut off. The stoppage of oxygen to the brain can cause unconsciousness, severe brain damage, and even death. Some common injuries associated with birth include, but are not limited to:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Erbs Palsy
- Permanent brain damage
- Lifelong heart problems
It can be difficult to tell if your child has sustained a birth injury at first, but if you notice any signs, you should contact a doctor and medical negligence attorney immediately. Common signs of birthing injuries include but are not limited to:
- Arched back while crying
- Difficulties eating, and swallowing
- Excessive drooling
If you believe that your baby has suffered a birth injury, first contact a trusted medical professional. Then, contact us at McAleer Law today for a complimentary consultation with one of our expert medical malpractice attorneys in Atlanta.Handling Injuries Suffered During and After Birth
Any form of trauma experienced by a newborn in the delivery room is classified as a birth injury. Birth injuries can cause lifelong abnormalities and complications for the child. Some forms of injury are more common than others. Here are some of the more common birth injuries that can occur in the delivery room:
- Cerebral Palsy: If a physician fails to properly facilitate the birth of a child, it could cause irreparable damage to the infant’s brain. Asphyxia can occur from many medical mistakes, such as failure to order a cesarean section in a timely fashion, failure to properly treat infection, improper use of a vacuum extractor during birth, failure to discover a prolapsed umbilical cord, and more. Cerebral palsy causes impaired movement and motor function that is often permanent and can significantly impact a person's quality of life.
- Spina Bifida: When the tissue that develops in the brain and spinal cord does not close properly prior to birth, the brain and spinal cord are often malformed, and ordinary function will not be present in the spinal cord. The condition is detectable in the earlier stages of pregnancy via an ultrasound. Because it can be detected early on, the failure of a doctor to properly diagnose the condition and recommend or administer precautions to avoid the injury can amount to medical negligence or malpractice. Lawsuits that stem from injuries such as spina bifida are classified as wrongful birth lawsuits.
- Shoulder Dystocia: During birth, a baby can suffer nerve damage if their shoulder somehow becomes lodged against the mother’s pelvic bone. Such a situation can place both the baby and mother at risk, as this can result in the baby becoming lodged in the birth canal. If a baby becomes stuck, multiple fractures and severe asphyxia can occur, ultimately cutting off the flow of oxygen to the brain and causing permanent brain damage.
If you, your baby, or another loved one has been injured by a doctor or medical professional, don’t give up hope—there are ways to get justice. Don’t let doctors who provide substandard care get away with placing the livelihood of their patients in jeopardy.
Contact McAleer Law today for a free consultation with one of our expert medical malpractice lawyers. We have a team of attorneys that specialize in medical malpractice claims stemming from birth injuries, and we are dedicated to providing our clients with passionate and zealous representation to get them the results they deserve.