As an expecting parent, all you can think about is your baby and their health. If you’ve been meticulous about taking supplements, going to visits with doctors, and taking care of your own body, you can typically expect that your child will be born healthy. Although that’s usually the case, sometimes it’s not. Unfortunately, a baby can be injured during birth or have a genetic defect that you didn’t know about until they’re born.
The Difference Between a Birth Defect and a Birth Injury
Birth injuries are defined as injuries that occur during or just after delivery that are completely preventable. Some common birth injuries are broken bones, nerve damage, and bruises. It’s believed that at least 28,000 babies get injured during birth every year. A birth injury can be caused by:
- Misuse of forceps or vacuum
- Pulling or twisting the baby in the birth canal
- Administering wrong type or amount of medication to the mother
- Improper monitoring of the baby and its heartbeat
- Delayed or no emergency C-section where necessary
A birth defect is a health problem that is a result of your child’s genetic makeup. The causes of birth defects usually come long before birth and affect only about three percent of babies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here are some of the factors that can cause birth defects:
- Family history of genetic disorders
- Mother’s exposure to certain medications or chemicals
- Cigarette, alcohol, or drug use during pregnancy
- Minimal or no prenatal care
- Pregnancy after age 35
Since a birth injury is from exterior forces during birth, and a birth defect is from interior factors, a birth defect cannot be caused by a birth injury. On top of that, the two are legally handled very differently.
Who is Responsible?
When it comes to the law, birth defects and birth injuries are handled differently. Since a birth injury occurs during delivery, the fault often falls on the doctor or delivery team. Any causes of birth injuries from above can sometimes be lumped into one category: medical negligence. A doctor and the delivery team are expected to provide you and your baby with care that meets the accepted standard. A birth injury usually occurs when they break this expectation.
When a birth defect is not solely a genetic problem, pharmaceutical companies could be at fault. Medications that are dangerous for fetuses are called teratogens. If they are not properly advertised, they could seriously harm the unborn baby and cause adverse side effects. If a pharmaceutical company did not properly test for teratogens, they could be liable for your baby’s birth defects.
On the other hand, if a doctor prescribed you a medicine that was not properly tested, they could be at fault because that would mean the medication wasn’t FDA approved. Filing a claim against a large corporation can be tough, so you’ll need to consult your lawyer for your best options.
If your baby suffered a birth injury or birth defect that could’ve been prevented, your responsibilities as a parent have grown considerably. You might have more medical bills than expected for the baby or mother. Or you might have to take off work for longer than expected so you can concentrate on getting your baby help. Contact Belsky Weinberg & Horowitz today to learn how we can help you move forward.