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Distinguishing between birth injuries and defects

Parents always hope for a safe pregnancy and birthing process. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

In some instances, certain birth incidents result in preventable birth injuries. On the other hand, sometimes a child may experience birth defects. It is important to be able to distinguish between the two.

Birth injuries

Birth injuries occur during or after birth. While there are a number of different kinds of birth injuries, some of the more common ones include:

  • Brain damage or head trauma
  • Broken bones
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Nerve damage
  • Erb's palsy
  • Cerebral palsy

It is important to note that a birth injury does not automatically denote a viable medical malpractice claim. Unfortunately, in emergency situations or special circumstances, some injuries may not be preventable. An instance must involve negligence to constitute a claim.

Birth defects

While birth injuries occur during the birthing process, birth defects happen while the child is still in the mother's womb. Similar to injuries, defects can take several different forms; however, defects usually affect the child's development, be it mentally, physically or both. In many cases, defects are the result of hereditary traits or genetic mutations, though there are some instances where outside stimulants, such as harmful medication, may result in defects.

Distinguishing factors

The main distinguishing factor between a birth injury and birth defect is when the condition develops. If it is the result of actions taken during birth, it usually classifies as a birth injury. However, there are some cases where a birth defect may not be recognized until after birth. In either instance, if the injury or defect is the result of improper actions by a medical professional, contrary to those of a prudent professional in the same situation, it might qualify for a malpractice case. 

Determining if an incident involves a birth injury or birth defect is critical to establishing grounds for a medical malpractice case. For those who think that a claim is viable, it can be beneficial to discuss the available options with a knowledgeable professional.

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