Baltimore Birth Injury Lawyers discuss Birth Defect vs. Birth InjurySeptember 17, 2015
Birth injuries happen when something goes wrong shortly before, during or after the delivery process. Many birth injuries are minor and heal on their own, but others can cause lifelong health problems. One of the most dangerous birth injuries is hypoxia, which is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain and can lead to cerebral palsy, permanent brain injury and cognitive and motor deficiencies.
Birth injuries can be the result of any number of medical mistakes made by doctors or hospital staff. Common causes of birth injuries include delayed birth, improper monitoring, excessive use of force during delivery and misuse of instruments during delivery.
Defining Birth Defect
According to the Centers for Disease Control, almost one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect, some of which are serious enough to cause lifelong health complications. The biggest difference between a birth injury and a birth defect is the time that they occur. Unlike birth injuries that happen during the labor or delivery process, birth defects develop while a baby is still forming inside the mother’s body, most often during the first trimester.
Birth defects are usually caused by either an inherited genetic abnormality or because of something the mother was exposed to in the environment. Common birth defects include congenital heart defects, cleft lip and cleft palate, Down syndrome and spina bifida.
With proper medical care, many birth defects can be prevented. Doctors should consult with patients regarding any family history of genetic defects. In some cases, genetic testing can be used as a proactive tool in family planning. The results can help doctors and families make informed decisions about the best way to avoid potentially life-threatening problems.
Doctors should also review health and wellness plans with expectant mothers in order to identify any medications or lifestyle choices that could increase the risk for birth defects. For example, certain antidepressants known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are alleged to cause several serious birth defects. Regular checkups and monitoring should also be performed to ensure the proper development of the fetus as well the health of the mother.
Diagnosis of Birth Injuries and Birth Defects
Early diagnosis and intervention can help to improve the health outcome of babies born with birth defects and birth injuries. This requires the coordinated effort of doctors, hospital staff, pharmacists, laboratory technicians and all others involved in the care of mother and baby. Any medical mistake made along the way could lead to a delay of diagnosis and delay of treatment that could potentially cause lasting harm to a child.
Many birth defects can be detected and treated even before the child is born. Routine blood tests and ultrasounds are usually the first to indicate a potential problem, and then are followed up by other tests, such as amniocentesis. Mothers carrying a baby with a suspected birth defect should be referred to a specialist for proper care and to help the family make decisions and plan for the future. This may include a plan to move up the date of delivery, or perform surgery in utero or shortly after delivery.
Doctors and hospital staff are trained to detect signs of birth trauma so they can act immediately. Failure to properly monitor or detect fetal distress can have devastating consequences, especially for babies who have suffered a lack of oxygen to the brain. After birth, babies should be examined carefully for signs of injury or other complications.
Some birth defects and birth injuries are not obvious at birth, but rather present themselves later when the child becomes more mobile and intellectually mature. Parents may have no idea that anything is wrong until they or their doctor begin to notice problems with the child’s ability to reach certain milestones. Issues affecting motor skills, speech and cognitive functions may take months or even years to be diagnosed correctly.
To further complicate the matter, some birth injuries may imitate the signs and symptoms of certain birth defects. For example, cerebral palsy is most often caused by a genetic abnormality, but it can also be the result of an injury that occurred during the birthing process. It is important for parents to get a second opinion from a highly rated doctor and if needed, seek the assistance of a qualified birth injury lawyer.
Maryland Birth Injury Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Are Dedicated to Helping Families Get the Answers and the Compensation They Need
If you believe that your child has suffered harm caused by medical negligence, we can help. For more than 30 years, families have come to the law firm of LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton to help them get the compensation they need to cover a lifetime of expenses and medical care. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) to schedule a free consultation with one of our compassionate and highly qualified Maryland birth injury lawyers. Someone is available to take your call 24 hours a day, or you can contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie and Towson, allowing us to represent families throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City and Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood and Elkridge.