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What’s the Difference Between a Birth Injury & a Birth Defect?

The birth of a child is meant to be an inspiring and momentous occasion. While the birthing process itself can be painful and stressful, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a brave mother who isn’t willing to fight through the pain for a chance to hold her child for the first time. Sadly, a single act of negligence can quickly turn this uplifting moment of joy into a heartbreaking tragedy.

Medical Malpractice & Birth Injuries

Medical malpractice is a leading cause of infant mortality in the United States. While doctors and medical staffers have many important duties during the birthing process, one of their most critical responsibilities is monitoring a baby’s condition and checking for signs of fetal distress and oxygen deprivation. When complications arise, especially during a difficult or prolonged labor, the doctor needs to take immediate steps to protect the mother and child. Otherwise, a baby left in utero for too long could suffer birth asphyxia and other fatal conditions, such as Cerebral palsy. 

However, the means of extracting a baby can also lead to life-changing birth injuries. For example, if a doctor tries to forcibly remove a wedged baby with forceps or a vacuum extractor instead of ordering a C-section, it may result in a brachial plexus birth injury, such as Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy.

A medical professional – doctor, nurse midwife, etc. – can be held accountable for the following acts of medical malpractice:

  • Failure to notice and remedy the symptoms of oxygen deprivation.
  • Failure to recognize the signs of fetal distress.
  • Failure to safely administer anesthesia.
  • Failure to diagnose potential pregnancy complications.
  • Failure to order a timely C-section.
  • Failure to properly administer medications.
  • Failure to use proven resuscitation techniques.

Approximately 2,333 babies suffer detrimental and debilitating birth injuries each month in the United States. The most common birth injuries include: brachial plexus injuries, bone fractures, spinal cord injuries, and cerebral palsy. If your child was harmed in a way that resulted in a birth injury, it’s critical that you contact a qualified legal representative as soon as possible.

But what if your child was born with a birth defect? And how is that different from a birth injury?

Medical Negligence & Birth Injuries

Unlike a birth injury, a birth defect usually occurs during the first three months of pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “birth defects are common, costly and critical conditions that affect 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States each year.” The CDC states that the best way to prevent a birth defect is to visit a healthcare provider regularly and start prenatal care as soon as possible.

Granted, most birth defects are caused by genetic abnormalities and exposure to dangerous environmental conditions. But sometimes medical professionals fail to provide adequate prenatal care and advice, which can result in a child being born in with a serious birth defect. For example, if an obstetrician fails to consistently monitor a baby’s condition, the child could develop central nervous system defects, cardiovascular disorders, gestational diabetes, developmental disorders, and more.

A medical professional – doctor, nurse midwife, etc. – can be held accountable for the following acts of medical malpractice:

  • Failure to recognize the signs of fetal distress.
  • Failure to administer safe prenatal medications.
  • Failure to give informative, relevant, and/or factual advice.
  • Failure to notice and diagnose potential defects.

Schedule a Consultation Today

Contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Bernstein & Poisson if your child has been harmed by the actions or negligence of a medical professional. Because we’ve represented many birth injury cases over the years, we have an intimate understanding of the legal, financial, and emotional challenges you’re likely facing. Our experienced legal team can meticulously investigate your case, research the negligent physician, and consult with medical experts to bolster your medical malpractice claim.

Rely on 60+ years of experience. Call Bernstein & Poisson at (702) 602-8869 to schedule a case evaluation today.