Difference Between Birth Injury and Birth Defect
While the terms “birth injury” and “birth defect” are sometimes used interchangeably, there is actually an important difference between the two. A birth defect is a condition that forms during a mother’s pregnancy before the baby is born. A birth injury occurs during the labor or delivery process and causes a condition or disability for an otherwise healthy newborn.
Birth defects may be the result of a teratogen, or an agent that disturbs the development of the embryo or fetus. Common teratogens include prescribed medication, illegal drugs, or alcohol abuse. Genetics may also predispose a baby toward a birth defect.
What Causes Birth Injuries?
Not all birth injuries are caused by negligence. Complications can naturally accompany any woman’s delivery. Birth injuries can be caused by:
- Overly large babies
- Premature deliveries
- Inadequate size and/or shape of mother’s pelvis for a vaginal birth
- Prolonged labor
- Abnormal positioning of the fetus (breech births)
Severe Birth Injuries Caused by Medical Professionals
However, negligence on behalf of the medical staff can lead to severe birth injuries, including:
- Caput Succadaneum: the swelling of the newborn’s scalp typically caused by pressures on the baby’s head, including pressure from a vacuum extraction procedure
- Erb’s Palsy: nerve damage that occurs when the baby’s neck or shoulder is stretched too far
- Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy: a lack of oxygen to the newborn’s brain, causing brain cells to die and resulting in developmental problems, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and even death
- Birth Fracture: a broken clavicle or collarbone or skull fracture
- Cerebral Palsy: a group of conditions of the brain and nervous system that impairs movement, cognition, sight, and hearing
- Bleeding in the Brain
- Facial Nerve Injury