Most new parents are no strangers to feeling stress or anxiety. Expanding the family presents challenges before, during and after the pregnancy. Among the more nerve-wracking moments occurs immediately afterward, when medical professionals perform an infant’s first medical examination. During this time, a doctor may discover an unfortunate birth injury or birth defect.

New parents may not understand the differences between injuries and defects. These terms refer more to the cause of an affliction rather than its classification. Informed parents can make better decisions about the health of their child.

The cause of the problem

The difference between a birth defect and a birth injury lies in the cause of the affliction. For example, a birth injury may occur during labor, temporarily cutting off oxygen to a newborn’s brain in childbirth and causing cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy may also result from a birth defect, perhaps due to damage suffered during pregnancy or a genetic predisposition.

Birth defects usually stem from an injury suffered during pregnancy. Usually, these injuries result from drinking or drug use while with child, but many causes are unknown. Birth injuries are preventable events caused by negligence on behalf of a hospital, its staff or other medical institutions involved in the pregnancy. Both represent tragic injuries suffered by newborn babies that may require treatment for the rest of their lives.

The costs of these treatments are often astronomical, so parents must understand the cause of the injury and act, if able. If the baby suffered a birth injury, the parents might have cause to file a lawsuit, since a medical professional likely caused the injury. Hospitals, doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other medical personnel may be liable. Parents may even sue their pre-natal physician if their treatment plan caused the injury, while others may find the cause lies with pharmaceutical companies.

Lawsuits for birth defects are less successful. Investigating a cause may point toward environmental effects or show no actionable results.

Contact a lawyer for more information

New parents with questions about the nature of their newborn’s affliction can find answers with a local attorney familiar with birth injuries. A lawyer can help work with medical personnel and insurance adjusters so new families can focus on providing a full and happy life for their newborn child.