• What Are the Differences between Birth Injuries and Birth Defects?
  • February 6, 2018
  • After months and months of anticipation and waiting, the big day has finally come and you're going to have your baby. As everyone always says, you just want the baby to be healthy. And most of the time, that's exactly how it goes. However, in the small percentage of times things don't go the way you planned, you need answers. What happened? What went wrong? Could this have been prevented?

    Babies can suffer from two medical issues at birth: birth injuries and birth defects. These are two distinct types of medical problems.

    Birth defects

    Birth defects happen as the baby develops in the womb. These congenital defects are commonly detected during pregnancy, although some may not show until after delivery. They're typically caused by a genetic abnormality, but can also be caused by certain medications or drugs and alcohol.

    Birth defects can occur in any part of a child's body, but the most serious focus on the nervous system. Common types of birth defects include heart defects, Down syndrome, cleft palates, spina bifida, fetal alcohol syndrome, or clubfoot.

    Birth injuries

    Birth injuries, on the other hand, occur during the birth process—usually a complication during labor. According to a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), out of 4.3 million childbirths which took place in U.S. hospitals in the year studied, nearly 157,700 mothers and newborns sustained potentially avoidable injuries.

    There are many different types of birth injuries, ranging from nerve and brain damage to broken bones to meconium aspiration syndrome. Many injuries occur when a baby is deprived of oxygen during delivery. A child can often suffer a birth injury when medical personnel fail to monitor a mother's labor or signs of fetal distress properly, or use excessive force during delivery. Common birth injuries include:

    • Brachial plexus injuries
    • Erb's Palsy
    • Shoulder dystocia
    • Klumpke's Palsy
    • Subconjunctival hemorrhage (bleeding in the eyes)
    • Fracture
    • Paralysis

    Unlike birth defects, which are usually unavoidable, birth injuries are likely to have been caused by improper medical attention. Failure to notice complications, delay to act, forceful delivery, or use of improper tools can all cause birth injuries that could otherwise have been avoided. Some birth injuries can be detected immediately, but some may not show up until days, weeks, or months after delivery.

    It's important to remember that not all birth injuries are life-threatening, and not all may be the result of negligence, either. The most important thing is to get the best care for your baby and begin their recovery and healing. If you do, however, believe your child's birth injury was preventable or caused by negligence, it's important to speak to a Nashville birth injury attorney as soon as possible.

    At the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, we fight on behalf of Tennessee parents whose children have suffered a birth injury. For compassionate and strong advocacy, please phone our lawyers at 615-246-5549 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment. We have offices in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Knoxville.