When you are expecting the birth of a child, it’s natural to feel a little worried. You probably aren’t just thinking about how you will care for a newborn, but how your baby’s birth will go. You want your baby to be born healthy, without any complications. However, that doesn’t happen with every birth. What if your child ends up with a birth defect? Or a birth injury? And what’s the difference between these problems?

Birth defects

Birth defects develop while your child is in utero. Doctors screen for birth defects through blood screens, ultrasounds and fetal echocardiograms. If they suspect a birth defect from one of these screenings, doctors may order you to have a chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis, both more invasive procedures that will test your baby for chromosomal disorders (like Down syndrome) and genetic disorders (like cystic fibrosis).

Some birth injuries, such as heart murmurs, may not be evident at birth. Doctors may not discover them until your child is older.

Birth injuries

Birth injuries can come as a result of a long, traumatic birth. A difficult delivery can deprive your baby of oxygen, leading to possible mental and physical disabilities. About 20% percent of those with cerebral palsy sustain brain injuries during birth.

Other common birth injuries include the following:

  • Brachial plexus (nerve damage to the upper spine, neck, shoulder and arm)
  • Facial paralysis
  • Fractured collarbones
  • Cephalohematoma (bleeding under the cranial bone)
  • Hemorrhages
  • Swelling or bruising of the head

Sometimes, a medical provider’s substandard care or improper delivery techniques can cause a birth injury. In these instances, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. If you do, you should consult an experienced attorney about your options. With severe birth injuries, your child may need long-term care and rehabilitative services, which a successful malpractice claim can help cover the cost of.