Of the nearly four million babies born in the United States each year, approximately 150,000 are diagnosed with a birth injury or birth defect, according to statistics from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. When parents learn that their newborn has been diagnosed with a birth injury or defect, it's important that they understand the differences between these diagnoses.
Birth defects are physical or biochemical abnormalities that occur during the infant's development. These abnormalities can be caused by genetics or other factors such as the use of illicit drugs, alcohol, or certain prescription medications during pregnancy, and they may result in lifelong physical or mental disabilities. Common birth defects include:
- Congenital heart disease
- Down syndrome
- Cleft lip and palate
- Spina bifida
- Club foot
Birth injuries are injuries and traumas sustained by otherwise healthy infants during the labor and delivery process, often as the result of a doctor or nurse's mistake. Birth injuries are particularly common in cases involving prolonged labor, delayed delivery, or instrument-assisted delivery. Common birth injuries caused by medical negligence include:
- Brain injuries such as Cerebral palsy
- Brachial plexus injuries such as Erb's palsy and Klumpke's palsy
- Broken bones such as clavicle fractures
- Cephalohematoma (bleeding underneath the cranium)
- Caput succedaneum (severe swelling of the scalp tissue)
The biggest difference between birth defects and birth injuries is that birth defects aren’t normally linked to a medical mishap and are not usually legally actionable. Exceptions may include cases where a birth defect is thought to have been caused by the use of a prescription drug linked to an increased risk of birth defects.
Experienced Representation for Birth Injury Plaintiffs
If your infant was diagnosed with a birth injury that you believe was caused by a mistake made by a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional during the labor and delivery process, you may be entitled to seek compensation. The knowledgeable birth injury attorneys with Holton Law Firm can help you explore your legal options. Contact Holton Law Firm today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case analysis.