Birth Injuries vs. Birth Defects: What is the Difference?

Having a baby should be the most joyous time in a parent’s life. However, when a child is born with an injury, it can turn a celebratory moment into one of high stress and anxiety. New parents often wonder if they can blame someone when their child is injured when they are born.

The answer to that, as with most legal issues, is that it depends. Largely, it depends on whether the injury is a birth injury caused by medical malpractice, or if the injury is a birth defect. Below, our Miami medical malpractice lawyer explains the difference between the two.

What is a Birth Defect?

A birth defect is an issue that is the result of a child’s DNA. In other words, birth defects are genetic and there is nothing parents or physicians can do to prevent them. The most common birth defects include:

  • Cleft palates and cleft lips
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Down syndrome
  • Gastroschisis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Neural tube defects
  • Upper and lower limb reduction defects

The above defects are not caused by a physician’s negligence, but that does not mean they cannot be held liable for them. Doctors and obstetricians must run a series of prenatal tests throughout the entire pregnancy to determine if the child has a birth defect, as they develop while the baby is still in the womb. These tests should detect a birth defect and when they do, doctors are responsible for informing the patient, who can then determine whether they want to go through with the birth or not.

If doctors do not take the appropriate steps, they can often terminate the pregnancy. When a doctor fails to inform a parent about a birth defect and the child is born, doctors can be held liable for the wrongful birth if the parent would have made the decision not to have the child.

What is a Birth Injury?

Unlike birth defects, birth injuries are entirely preventable and are the result of a doctor’s or other healthcare professional’s negligence. Some of the most common types of birth injuries include:

  • Brachial plexus injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Perinatal asphyxia
  • Intracranial hemorrhage
  • Facial paralysis
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Cerebral palsy

A birth injury can occur any time before, during, or after delivery. They are most commonly caused by medical malpractice such as when a doctor pulls too hard on the baby during birth, there is a miscalculation of the size of the child, assistive devices are used improperly, or a C-section is not ordered in a timely manner. Parents can file a medical malpractice lawsuit after a birth injury, but these claims are never easy. A medical malpractice lawyer can advise on the challenges these claims present, and help you overcome them.

Call Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Miami Today

Florida law allows victims of medical malpractice to recover financial compensation for their child’s injuries, but it also places many rules on these claims. At Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, our Miami medical malpractice lawyers can determine if you have a valid claim and help you through the process so your family claims the full compensation you deserve. Call us today at (786) 504-7842 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.