Most births are normal and the babies healthy. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one out of every 33 newborn babies has a birth defect.
Some mothers and babies also experience traumatic birth injuries. While both birth defects and birth injuries can affect the health of a baby, the two are not the same thing. Knowing the difference can be important when facing a lawsuit for malpractice.
Another name for birth defects is congenital defects because they are already present long before labor and delivery begin. Genetic predisposition and infections are common causes of birth defects. Sometimes there are multiple contributing factors, and sometimes the cause is unidentifiable.
There are some things that expectant parents can do to manage the risks of birth defects, such as abstaining from alcohol or tobacco use during pregnancy. However, some defects are impossible to avoid.
According to Stat Pearls, a birth injury results from an adverse event during labor or delivery that has a negative effect on the structure or function of a newborn’s body. Were it not for this adverse event, the child would have been normal and healthy at birth. Some birth injuries are minor and improve on their own with time. Others are severe and can have lifelong effects.
The birth of a child with a congenital defect may be understandably upsetting to parents but is rarely, if ever, legally actionable. Birth injuries, on the other hand, may result from the actions or inactions of one or more members of a health care team, meaning that there could be grounds for a malpractice suit.