Birth Injuries vs. Birth Defects Birth injuries and birth defects are not the same.

Both birth injuries and defects can significantly impact your child’s well-being. However, these terms do not refer to the same thing. Understanding the birth injuries vs. birth defects discussion can help you provide the proper care for your child and potentially seek compensation for their medical care. A medical malpractice lawyer can guide you through this process and advocate for your family in the legal system.

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The Definition of a Birth Injury

Birth injuries occur when a child gets hurt while their mother goes through labor or at any point during the delivery process. Birth injuries have multiple causes. In some cases, they are the result of an accident. 

Some factors make it more likely that infants will experience birth injuries. According to a study available through StatPearls Publishing, these factors include:

  • The baby’s weight
  • The mother’s stature 
  • Diabetes in the mother 
  • The speed of labor
  • The attending doctor’s use of forceps or a vacuum during the birth

However, in some cases, medical professionals cause these accidents when they do not demonstrate proper care before, during, and after the birthing process. 

Comparing Birth Injuries to Birth Defects

Now that we have discussed birth injuries, we can compare them to birth defects. Medical professionals use the term ‘birth defects’ to refer to illnesses or health conditions that develop during a baby’s time in the womb. 

Birth defects include both congenital defects and developmental abnormalities. These defects can have numerous causes, including:

  • Exposure to toxic substances 
  • Inherited conditions
  • Genetic factors 

However, doctors cannot always identify a birth defect’s cause. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 3% of babies exhibit signs of a birth defect each year. 

These defects may impact any organ. In some cases, birth defects impact multiple body systems. Some children are even born with numerous birth defects. 

What Are the Most Common Birth Injuries?

Many different types of injuries can occur during birth. You might want to seek medical care quickly if your child sustained any of these common birth injuries. 

Broken Bones

Sometimes, medical professionals inadvertently break bones during the birthing process. For example, they may hurt your child’s collarbone (or clavicle), especially while trying to help the child pass through the birth canal. 


Doctors sometimes dislocate a joint during childbirth. This event commonly happens with a child’s shoulder, as a doctor may grab the child’s arm to pull them from the birth canal. Improper or rough treatment could also lead to dislocation. 

Trauma to the Skull or Head 

Medical professionals use forceps during some births. This tool allows them to grab the child’s head to extract from the birth canal. However, improper usage of the forceps could cause cranial trauma from pressure to the skull. 

Brain Damage 

Some children experience brain damage – or a form of cerebral palsy – due to a lack of oxygen during childbirth. Therefore, doctors need to monitor a child’s vital signs throughout delivery to ensure there is an adequate oxygen supply. If not, they must act quickly to restore air flow.

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What Are Common Types of Birth Defects?

Medical professionals divide birth defects into two categories:

Structural Birth Defects 

According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), some birth defects impact the structure of your child’s body. Doctors call these structural birth defects. Examples of structural birth defects include:

  • Cleft palates 
  • Heart defects 
  • Defects of the neural tube 

These defects vary in severity. In some cases, medical professionals can provide treatments to reduce the impact of these conditions. 

Functional Birth Defects 

Other children experience functional (or developmental) birth defects. These defects impact the way a specific system functions. Many functional birth defects affect the brain or nervous system, including:

  • Down syndrome
  • Fragile X syndrome 
  • Prader-Willi syndrome 

Other functional birth defects impact a child’s senses. For example, blindness and deafness both represent examples of functional birth defects. Metabolic disorders like hypothyroidism also serve as examples of these birth defects.

Finally, some children are born with degenerative disorders, such as muscular dystrophy. Unfortunately, many medical professionals do not identify these disorders right away due to their symptoms. 

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Responsibility: Birth Injuries vs. Birth Defects

Birth defects often result from genetic factors. In this situation, no one holds responsibility for causing the condition. Birth injuries, on the other hand, often result from mistakes or dangerous actions taken by medical professionals. 

For instance, infants may sustain an injury if a doctor fails to:

  • Diagnose a mother’s medical condition 
  • Detect an ectopic pregnancy 
  • Prescribe a correct amount of medication 
  • Use the right amount of traction during birth
  • Perform a C-section when indicated 
  • Respond quickly to evidence of fetal distress 

The above list only contains examples of situations that can lead to a birth injury. Can birth trauma affect a child’s behavior? Yes, birth trauma can have a long-lasting impact upon a child’s behavior, development, and quality of life, to name a few. While some birth injuries alleviate with care and due to the passing of time, others have permanent effects. Getting prompt treatment for your child may allow them to recover and filing a birth injury could help you cover the cost. Since most birth injuries are preventable, parents consider filing medical malpractice claims or lawsuits against negligent doctors, healthcare staff, hospital administration, etc.

Get Help Handling a Birth Injury Claim in Florida

Want to learn more about birth injuries vs. birth defects? If so, consider securing professional help from the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine. We provide responsive legal care in Florida for birth injury cases

Reach out to us to discuss your legal options by calling 1-800-747-3733.