While genetic and environmental factors are often underlying causes in birth defects, birth injuries are generally due to mistakes and errors on the part of medical providers.
As an expectant parent, it is natural to be concerned about the health and safety of your developing baby. Proper screening by medical providers is important to determine whether conditions in your family or other factors could increase the risk of birth defects. Careful monitoring and attention to detail is also important in preventing birth injuries, which can occur due to mistakes on the part of your medical providers.
Understanding Birth Defects
Kids Health warns that there are more than 4,000 different types of birth defects. These typically occur due to problems with how the infant’s body develops in the womb. These problems can threaten their overall health and result in potentially permanent disabilities. Doctors are not always sure what causes certain types of birth defects. In some cases, the following are factors:
- Genetic conditions that run on either the mother’s or father’s side of the family;
- Chromosomal abnormalities that occur during conception;
- Environmental factors, such as exposure to certain types of toxins;
- Exposure to certain types of viruses while in the womb;
- Dangerous behaviors on the part of the mother or father, such as alcohol and drug abuse.
Birth defects may impact the child’s basic body structure, their physical abilities, and cognitive functions. Common types of birth defects include club foot, cleft lip, Tay-Sachs disease (a condition impacting the infant’s nervous system), and Spina Bifida. While these may not be preventable, there are actions the mother can take before and during pregnancy to help reduce the risks. There are also different types of testing and procedures doctors can employ to help protect the infant.
Birth Injuries Vs. Birth Defects
Birth injuries and birth defects are alike in that getting proper prenatal care can help reduce the risks. However, unlike birth defects, birth injuries generally happen to otherwise healthy infants and are often due to medical mistakes on the part of health providers involved.
Medical issues that arise during pregnancy which your doctor fails to uncover or treat, and errors during labor and delivery, are among the leading causes of birth injuries. Examples include:
- Failure to properly diagnose conditions such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or infections;
- Failure to properly monitor the pregnancy or labor, which can cause lead to potentially life-threatening situations for both the mother and the infant;
- Not taking the appropriate interventions during delivery, such as allowing mothers to labor too long, resulting in trauma and reduced oxygen for the baby;
- Misusing tools such as vacuum extractors and forceps, resulting in physical injuries to the infant;
- Not providing the mother or infant with the proper postnatal care.
Holding Medical Providers Accountable
When mistakes during pregnancy or during labor and delivery leave you or your child with birth injuries, the medical providers involved can be held accountable. To find out what your rights are in terms of filing a claim, contact an experienced birth injury attorney.