Birth Injuries and Birth Defects: Know the Difference, Know Your Rights

birth injuries

Welcoming your child into the world should be a happy time.

It’s the time where family and friends come together to welcome a new member into the family. But, what if the unthinkable happens?

Knowing what to do next if your newborn experiences birth injuries can be an overwhelming situation. After all, this is your new bundle of joy and your heart is invested.

In times like this, you will need a strong support system from your family and a strong legal team to help you figure out what to do next.

The law offices of Joseph M. Lichtenstein specializes in medical malpractice. We offer support to families after the medical system fails them, leaving their children injured.

Though medical professionals are extensively trained, it’s important to realize that mistakes happen. And these mistakes shouldn’t be looked over.

Whether you are experiencing the heartbreaking consequences of birth injuries, false cancer diagnosis, or medical malpractice, you need good representation.

We know this time is tough. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you understand the differences between birth injuries and birth defects, and what you can to get your family justice.

How to tell the difference between birth injuries and birth defects

Experiencing birth defects or birth injuries with your newborn is a difficult time. It’s heartbreaking and confusing.

But, knowing the difference between the two problems is very important. You’ll need to know if it was a birth defect or an injury if you want to properly treat your child and find out if legal action is necessary.

Birth defects

A birth defect is defined as an abnormality that appears upon birth. This could be something like having an extra pinky finger or as serious as Spinal Bifida.

These defects develop while the baby is in the womb and are immediately noticeable or appear within the first three or so months.

It’s important to know that these defects would happen regardless of how the baby was born. In these cases, C-section, natural, water, forceps, or vacuum births do not affect the baby.

No outside actions can cause a defect during labor and birth, though medications and certain viruses can cause defects.

When a baby has a birth defect, it does not always happen as something outside of their body. Defects can also be problems with the development of organs or how they work.

For example, some babies are born with defects that leave them unable to digest food.

In cases of birth defects, it’s important to work with your team of doctors to give your child the healthiest future.

Since the doctors did not cause harm to your child that caused the defect, there is no course for medical action unless there was both a defect and injury involved.

Birth injuries

Birth injuries are medical problems or death that are inflicted on a baby who was carried healthily to full term. This means the baby would have thrived outside of the womb and would have progressed normally.

When a doctor uses excessive force or does not follow procedure correctly is when birth injuries happen. More typically, they happen as the baby is being removed from the mother.

Unfortunately, birth injuries happen to about 5 in 1,000 babies born in the US.

Common birth injuries

To help you better understand some of the most common birth defects, keep reading! And remember, if you have any questions, please contact us.


This injury is medically known as Caput succedaneum, meaning the child’s head becomes swollen after birth. Usually, this injury happens as a result of the doctor intervening to get the child out.

Though it’s important for doctors to step in to deliver babies if something is going wrong, it’s a delicate process. Using forceps and vacuums to assist in delivery can cause this swelling.


When doctors use forceps or vacuums, babies can also develop bruising around their face, neck, and head. This happens when excessive force was used.

Luckily, many cases of bruising for these reasons don’t result in long-term harm.

Broken bones

When force is used to deliver the baby, it’s possible for bones to be broken.

In these heartbreaking cases, your baby was not given the proper care needed to be delivered smoothly, allowing limbs to pass through unharmed.

From grabbing a limb or pulling too roughly, broken and dislocated bones can become a problem.

Cerebral palsy

This devastating injury can change the course of your child’s life forever. Due to mishandling, a brain injury during birth can cause your child to suffer from seizures and mental defects.

Children with cerebral palsy may also be unable to walk or have fine motor skills.

Nerve damage

When a doctor delivers a baby roughly, damage can happen to the baby’s nerves. This is especially common for the nerves running to a baby’s arms.

Brachial pals is the medical term for this injury, and it can cause complete loss of motion or limited use of that limb for life.

The rights you and your family have after birth injuries

Every doctor takes the Hippocratic Oath in the beginning of their medical career. By doing this, they’re vowing to never do harm and do their best to treat their patients with empathy and high-quality care.

So when a doctor strays from this and causes injuries to their patients, there’s a problem.

In cases where your child suffered a birth injury, you and your family has a right to sue. In these cases, families are seeking justice, coverage of costs, and a secondary look at the doctor’s right to practice.

Many hospitals and doctors will try and argue that the baby instead suffers from a birth defect, so it’s important to have secondary options and information regarding your baby’s injury.

Though it is a difficult and painful process, pursuing malpractice lawsuits can help your family handle the care of your child and prevent future malpractice from hurting another child.

To get help and learn what steps you can take, please contact us and check out our blog for more information.

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