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What is the difference between a birth injury and a birth defect?

Expecting parents in Cook County may take every precaution possible during their pregnancy in order to ensure their baby will be healthy. Mothers often eat the right foods, exercise, take prenatal vitamins, and go to all prenatal appointments. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, sometimes these women's children suffer from a fatal birth defect or birth injury.

It is important to understand the difference between a birth defect and a birth injury. Birth defects, in general, are a harm that arises while the infant is still in the womb. Approximately seven percent of all infants suffer from a birth defect. Birth defects can vary, too. Some are barely noticeable while others can be fatal. Some birth defects are genetic, while others could be caused by other factors, such as illegal drug use or alcohol abuse.

Birth injuries, on the other hand, take place when something goes wrong during the birthing process. According to one source, five out of every 1,000 infants born in the United States will be injured in the birthing process. For example, a birth injury could occur if the physician attending the delivery improperly uses forceps or fails to properly monitor the infant during the labor or birthing process. Some examples of birth injuries include brain injury due to a lack of oxygen, a fractured skull, and dislocated shoulders. In the worst of circumstances, an infant can die from a birth injury.

While, in general, birth defects are not the result of negligence on the part of the doctor, birth injuries may be attributed to physician negligence in some cases. When that happens, the child's parents may want to pursue a personal injury or wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuit. However, proving wrongful death or personal injury due to medical malpractice is not always easy. To learn more about the elements of a wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuit, these parents may want to bring the matter up with an experienced attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Birth Injury Overview," accessed May 1, 2017

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