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What is the difference between a birth injury and a birth defect?

While the majority of hospital births go smoothly and result in a positive outcome for both mother and baby, it is an unfortunate fact that sometimes babies are born with severe mental or physical health complications.

When such complications occur, it is important for parents and care providers to understand the cause. Sometimes the cause of the problem is readily apparent. But in other situations, determining the cause can take a significant amount of investigation.

For parents, it is important to understand the difference between a   birth injury and a birth defect. This understanding will give parents the best opportunity to do what is necessary to safeguard the legal rights of themselves and their newborn.

A birth injury is a complication that occurs during labor and delivery. There are several kinds of possible birth injuries, some of which include cerebral palsy, Erbs palsy, bone fractures, perinatal asphyxia, facial paralysis, and spinal cord injuries. Not all birth injuries are the result of a physician’s failure to exercise reasonable care, but some of them can be.

Mistakes that doctors may make that lead to birth injuries include failure to recognize problems with the pregnancy, using medical devices improperly, and failure to recognize the baby’s health problems while still it is still in the womb. It is estimated that five percent of births result in a birth injury.

While a birth injury is harm to a baby that is caused during the birth process, a birth defect is harm that occurred in the womb. Like birth injuries, birth defects can be caused by many different factors. These factors can include heredity, the mother's use of drugs (whether prescribed or illegal), and other environmental factors. It is estimated that seven percent of babies are born with birth defects.

If a child suffers a birth injury or birth defect as the result of the failure to provide a generally acceptable standard of medical care on the part of a physician, drug manufacturer, or other care provider, then the child may be entitled to compensation for his or her injuries. However, the legal and medical issues involved with such a claim are extremely complex. It is therefore a good idea for the parent of any child born with health complications to seek the advice of an experienced medical malpractice attorney. 

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