What Is the Difference Between a Birth Defect and a Birth Injury?
Posted in Medical Malpractice on November 18, 2019
Each year, thousands of children are born with birth injuries and birth defects across the United States. All of the conditions associated with birth defects and injuries can have a profound impact on these children’s lives, including ongoing medical care, difficulty caring for themselves, and significant financial responsibilities for their families. However, there are several stark differences between a birth defect and a birth injury that all families should be aware of.
Birth Defects versus Birth Injuries
Both birth defects and birth injuries can cause severe physical and emotional consequences to a child, as well as financial hardships to his or her family. However, birth injuries and birth defects involve two separate types of harm.
A baby develops a birth injury either during the course of labor and delivery, or just after. In many cases, improper fetal monitoring by the medical staff or dangerous birthing techniques, such as the use of forceps, can result in a birth injury. Often, these injuries involve damage to a baby’s nerves or bones, a lack of oxygen during labor and delivery, or failure to properly monitor the mother and the baby during labor.
Common types of birth injuries include the following conditions.
- Cerebral palsy
- Brachial plexus injury
- Facial paralysis
- Nerve damage
- Bruising and lacerations
- Broken bones and fractures
- Brain damage
On the other hand, birth defects occur while a baby is developing in his or her mother’s womb. Unlike birth injuries, which usually involve more external injuries and physical trauma, a birth defect can occur in any part of the baby’s body. These conditions can occur in the heart or a baby’s nervous system, along with many other areas.
While some birth defects are the result of a genetic mutation, external forces can lead to a defect as well. Taking improper medications or exposing a pregnant mother to toxins can cause a birth defect during the baby’s crucial development period.
Common birth defects include the following.
- Heart murmurs
- Missing or misshapen heart valves
- Cleft palates
- Down syndrome
- Neural tube defects that impact brain and spinal cord development
- Abnormal limb development
Can You File a Lawsuit for a Birth Defect or Birth Injury?
You have the option to file a birth defect or a birth injury lawsuit on behalf of your child – as long as you and your attorney can prove that the cause of the defect was the result of a third party. Although birth injury cases tend to be more common than birth defect lawsuits, it is possible for file claims for both types of damage.
For example, if your child developed brain damage after not receiving enough oxygen in the womb, you could hold the medical team who delivered your baby liable in your lawsuit for improper fetal monitoring.
If you discover that a company in the town you grew up in improperly disposed of toxic waste near your home and your child was born with a birth defect, you could hold the company responsible for their actions. You will require expert testimony from medical professionals and scientists to help prove your claim, and your attorney can put you in contact with these individuals to build your case.
Proving a Birth Injury or Birth Defect Lawsuit
Once you hire an attorney to help you prove your lawsuit, you can begin building your case. In order to successfully prove your lawsuit, you and your lawyer will need to provide evidence to satisfy the following four elements.
- First, that the third party owed you and your child a duty of care
- Second, that the third party breached their duty of care to you and your child in some way
- Third, that this breach of care directly caused your child’s injuries
- And fourth, that your child can collect damages in your lawsuit as a result of the breach of care
If you believe that a medical professional or other third party’s negligence led to your child’s birth defect or birth injury, you have the option to file a lawsuit against the responsible parties. However, you will require the assistance of a birth injury and defect attorney to help prove your case. Contact a Kansas City birth injury lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case and explore your pathways toward optimal compensation.