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Posted on August 22, 2023 in Personal Injury
Birth injuries and birth defects can have devastating and lasting effects on newborns and their families. However, some conflate the two concepts and assume either gives rise to a medical malpractice claim. But birth injuries and birth defects are not the same. Critical differences between them can influence whether a family may have a valid medical malpractice claim.
A birth defect is a health problem or malformation a fetus develops in the womb. Birth defects most frequently occur due either to genetics or environmental factors such as the mother’s diet or toxins that the mother ingested or was exposed to. Birth defects can cause developmental, physical, and cognitive disabilities. Doctors can treat some birth defects during pregnancy through medications and surgery.
Conversely, a birth injury refers to physical trauma or medical complications a baby suffers during or immediately after delivery. Birth injuries frequently occur due to negligence by medical staff who provide care during the mother’s pregnancy and attend the delivery.
Some of the most common causes of birth injuries involve errors by healthcare providers, such as:
Birth defects commonly occur due to genetic or environmental factors. Children may inherit genes from one or both parents that trigger a birth defect. Damage to genetic material before conception or early in the embryonic stage may also cause birth defects.
Children may also develop birth defects when exposed to toxins, viruses, or bacteria through their mother. Certain maternal lifestyle factors, such as diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, and drug use, can also trigger birth defects. In some cases, birth defects may result from medical negligence when a mother’s doctor prescribes or fails to discontinue a prescription for a drug with a risk of causing birth defects.
The critical difference between birth injuries and birth defects is that birth injuries usually occur due to medical negligence. In contrast, birth defects usually occur naturally due to no one’s fault – though negligence could be a factor in less common cases.
When a birth injury occurs due to a healthcare provider’s negligent error, an injured child’s family can file a medical malpractice claim against the provider. Conversely, families with a child with a birth defect may not have a legal claim unless they can trace the birth defect to the mother’s use of or exposure to pharmaceuticals, consumer products, or potentially toxic materials known to increase the risk of birth defects.
If your child has suffered a birth injury due to the negligence of your doctors or delivery team, get legal help to pursue compensation and justice for your child. Contact us online or call The Melonakos Law Firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation. You can discuss your family’s legal options with our experienced Greenville birth injury attorneys in absolute confidence.