Differences between birth injuries and birth defects

On Behalf of | Feb 13, 2023 | Birth Injuries |

All West Virginia expectant parents hope for pregnancies that result in healthy children, but pregnancy or birth complications sometimes dash these hopes. Women can suffer medical harm and so can their infants. When health care professionals or pharmaceutical companies bear the blame for the negative outcome, parents may sue for damages. Getting to that point, however, requires establishing the cause of the injury or defect and whether it could have been realistically prevented.

Birth injury

Birth represents a high-risk time for infants as they come into the world. When things go wrong, they may suffer devastating injuries, such as brain damage due to lack of oxygen. Causes of birth injuries include:

  • Improper use of forceps or vacuum
  • Failure to order an emergency Cesarean section
  • Failure to recognize health problems in the infant

Due to birth being a naturally dangerous event, medical errors or incompetence are not always the source of birth injuries. Sometimes bad things happen even when everybody performs their roles properly. Birth injury malpractice depends on proving that the medical professionals did not meet accepted standards of care.

Birth defect

Although many birth defects occur due to genetics, external factors can cause them as well. Many chemical contaminants in the environment are known or suspected to cause birth defects. Pharmaceuticals can also inflict harm on developing fetuses. When women take drugs prescribed by medical providers that cause birth defects, they may have the legal ability to recover damages.

Medical professionals could bear responsibility if they prescribe drugs known to cause birth defects in error. However, lawsuits more often target pharmaceutical companies that produce the drugs that caused harm. Such companies may not have fully investigated the potential for birth defects or did not communicate the risk to the medical community.