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What Is the Difference Between Birth Injuries & Birth Defects?


Birth injuries and birth defects often have permanent symptoms that require long-term medical care. Birth defects tends to refer to conditions that relate to something in the child’s DNA. Birth injuries tends to refer to complications from pregnancy, labor and/or delivery. Depending on the situation, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim against your doctor or the hospital in which your child was delivered for injuries your child suffered during pregnancy, labor and/or delivery.

Understanding Birth Injuries

Birth injuries occur during or immediately after delivery. They may be caused by pulling too hard on the baby, failing to identify and treat fetal distress, using forceps or vacuum devices incorrectly, or improperly performing (or failing to timely call for) a caesarian section (“C-section”). During labor and delivery, the baby may suffer broken bones, brachial plexus (nerve) damage, brain damage, and head injuries. The baby may also suffer ill-effects from oxygen deprivation (anoxia or hypoxia). One of the most dreadful and life-altering complications can be Cerebral Palsy.

Understanding Birth Defects

Birth defects are typically caused by genetic mutations. While birth defects could affect any part of an infant’s body, the most serious defects often inhibit the nervous system. Certain medications and toxins that the mother ingests during pregnancy may cause birth defects. There are a variety of birth defects that affect children, but some of the most common ones include Downs syndrome, spina bifida, cleft lip and palate, and congenital heart disease.

Pursuing Compensation for Your Child’s Suffering

Doctors and healthcare providers owe a duty of reasonable care to patients. This means they must provide accurate, effective, and safe treatments to improve a patient’s health and wellbeing. If your doctor or the hospital negligently failed to correct a breech birth, failed to timely call for a C-section, inappropriately administered medications, failed to recognize fetal distress or other negligent actions or inactions, or were reckless and injured your son or daughter, you may have the right to pursue justice through a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Furthermore, if it can be proven that your child’s birth defect was caused by your doctor’s negligence in prescribing a certain medication or other harmful substance, you may be able to file a claim. However, in general, physicians will not be held liable for the majority of birth defects. You may also file a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company responsible for manufacturing and marketing the drug that caused your child’s birth defect. You will likely need to prove that the company failed to perform adequate testing or used unlawful marketing practices.

Knowledgeable Birth Injury Attorney Serving Louisville, KY

Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC provides representation to clients injured by medical professionals. Our firm believes doctors, hospitals and others in the healthcare industry should be held responsible for negligence or carelessness. If your son or daughter suffered a birth injury because of your doctor’s or hospital’s actions or other failures, our compassionate Louisville birth injury lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation and fight on your behalf.

We offer free consultations to all prospective clients. Contact our office today.

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