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The terms “birth defect” and “birth injury” are sometimes used interchangeably, but they describe different medical issues affecting newborns. Understanding the distinction between birth defects and birth injuries is crucial for parents seeking proper care, treatment, and legal recourse for their child.

Birth defects, also called congenital disabilities, affect about 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States each year, often due to factors outside the mother’s or medical provider’s control. Birth injuries, which can be caused by poor medical care during pregnancy or delivery, occur in about 1.9 out of every 1,000 live births.

Learn the difference between birth injuries and defects and how a Chicago birth injury lawyer from Beam Legal Team can assist you in seeking compensation for your family.

What Causes a Birth Defect?

Birth defects are structural or functional abnormalities present in babies at birth. They develop while the baby is still in the womb, sometimes before the mother is even aware she’s pregnant. Common congenital disabilities include:

  • Congenital heart defects
  • Neural tube defects like spina bifida and anencephaly
  • Cleft lip or palate
  • Limb abnormalities
  • Metabolic disorders

Many birth defects are due to genetic or chromosomal abnormalities passed down from the parents. One example is Down syndrome, which occurs in 1 out of every 700 births globally and is caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21. Genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and muscular dystrophy can cause congenital disabilities like developmental delays or respiratory issues.

Environmental exposures can also cause birth defects:

  • Viral infections like Zika, rubella, cytomegalovirus
  • Medications or substance abuse by the mother
  • Exposure to toxic substances like lead or radiation
  • Poor prenatal nutrition

What Causes Birth Injuries?

Birth injuries refer to harm that occurs to a baby during the labor and delivery process after they have fully developed in the womb. These injuries are often the result of medical malpractice or negligence on the part of the doctors, nurses, or hospital staff involved in the delivery. Common birth injuries include:

  • Brachial Plexus Injuries: These occur when the nerves in the baby’s shoulder are damaged during delivery, often due to excessive pulling or improper use of vacuum extraction during a difficult birth.
  • Cerebral Palsy: This neurological disorder can result from brain damage during birth, which may occur due to oxygen deprivation or trauma during delivery.
  • Perinatal Asphyxia: Oxygen deprivation during birth can lead to perinatal asphyxia, which may result from umbilical cord compression, placental abruption, or other complications during labor.
  • Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE): This condition results from oxygen deprivation and reduced blood flow to the baby’s brain during birth, potentially leading to long-term neurological issues.
  • Erb’s Palsy: Similar to brachial plexus injuries, Erb’s palsy involves damage to the nerves in the baby’s shoulder, often caused by stretching or pulling during delivery.

Birth Defects vs. Birth Injuries: The Main Differences

Both birth defects and birth injuries can impact your child’s health and well-being. To help identify whether your child may have a birth injury, consider the following characteristics of birth injuries versus existing defects:

Characteristic Birth Defect Birth Injury
Timing Present at birth or detected during prenatal screening Typically occurs during labor and delivery
Cause Genetic factors or environmental influences during pregnancy Trauma or complications during labor and delivery
Nature of Condition Structural or functional abnormalities in organs, tissues, or body systems Physical injuries or neurological damage
Diagnosis Often diagnosed through prenatal testing or physical examination at birth Diagnosed based on clinical signs and symptoms shortly after birth
Treatment Treatment may include surgery, medication, therapy, or supportive care Treatment varies based on the specific injury and may involve physical therapy, medication, or surgical intervention
Recourse for Families Support groups, medical specialists, and educational resources are available Families may pursue legal action against medical professionals or institutions to secure compensation for current and future medical expenses.


Seeking Compensation for Your Baby’s Birth Injury

If your child suffered a preventable birth injury due to medical malpractice, our experienced lawyers at Beam Legal Team can help you pursue compensation through a birth injury lawsuit. This can provide funds for your child’s ongoing medical care, assistive therapies, home accommodations, and other needs.

To prove medical malpractice, we demonstrate that:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed
  • The medical provider failed to follow the proper standard of care
  • This negligence directly caused your child’s injury
  • Your child suffered measurable harm and damages

Proving birth injury cases requires in-depth medical evidence and expert testimony. Our Chicago birth injury lawyers have over 30 years of experience building these complex cases nationwide. We work closely with medical experts to establish negligence and fight for the compensation your family deserves.

Secure Your Child’s Future Today

If your precious new baby was harmed by a preventable mistake during labor and delivery, you need dedicated legal advocates in your corner. The birth injury lawyers at Beam Legal Team are dedicated to providing the personalized support and skilled representation Chicago families need during this traumatic time.

We have recovered more than $1 billion for families coping with the lifelong consequences of birth injuries. Contact us today for a free, confidential case review.

Categories: Birth Defects,