Many Texans, including some expecting mothers, assume that birth injuries
and birth defects are one and the same. In fact, birth injuries differ
from birth defects, although both can cause serious injury to a fetus
or newborn. Either type of damage can lead to significant medical expenses
and the need for long-term care.
A birth injury is typically caused by an adverse event or mistake that
occurs during the delivery process. There are myriad of things that can
go wrong during a birth, even one that follows a healthy, normal pregnancy.
For example, a doctor could fail to respond properly to a mother’s
uterine rupture or administer too much of a labor-inducing drug to a mother.
Another potential source of birth injuries is the failure of either the
obstetrician or nurse to interpret fetal monitoring indications. If a
baby’s heart monitor shows that the baby is experiencing trouble,
for instance, nurses or midwives who insist on still trying to deliver
vaginally may inadvertently allow brain damage to happen to the fetus.
Birth defects, on the other hand, are usually caused by harm to the fetus
prior to birth. This might involve medications given to the mother that
are not meant to be taken by pregnant women or, in some cases, exposure
to substances in the environment that are especially toxic to expecting
women. A negligent doctor can accidentally spur the development of birth
defects by administering the wrong medication or the right drug in the
wrong amounts. Some of the more familiar types of birth defects include
Down’s Syndrome, spina bifida and fetal alcohol syndrome.
It is important for parents to understand the risks of pregnancy, given
their own health histories. At the same time, it is vitally important
for doctors, nurses and all who work in the delivery room to adhere to
the generally accepted, reasonable standard of care for obstetrics. If
this standard is not upheld and negligence affects a mother or baby, the
victims of such negligence can be entitled to significant damages.