How do birth injuries differ from birth defects?
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.