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How do you distinguish a birth defect from a birth injury?

As a mother-to-be, your main concerns likely revolve around your developing baby’s health and welfare. You do everything within your power to ensure that (s)he sustains no injury inside your womb or suffers any kind of distress. 

Unfortunately, however, you cannot control everything. As the Safe Birth Project explains, your baby could develop improperly before his or her birth, resulting in a birth defect, or sustain an injury during your labor and delivery, resulting in a birth injury. 

Birth defects 

Genetic mutations cause the majority of birth defects, but your baby could also develop one if toxins from certain drugs go from your bloodstream to his or hers through the placenta. Common birth defects include the following: 

  • Down syndrome 
  • Sickle cell disease 
  • Cystic fibrosis 
  • Heart defects 
  • Cleft lip or palate 
  • Spina bifida 

Birth injuries 

Birth process emergencies cause the majority of birth injuries, but your baby could also suffer one if the doctor improperly uses forceps to help deliver him or her. Common birth injuries include the following: 

  • Cerebral palsy 
  • Facial paralysis 
  • Oxygen deprivation resulting in brain damage 
  • Cephalohematoma (bleeding beneath the cranial bone) 
  • Brachial plexus 
  • Fractured collarbone 

Fault assessment 

Depending on your baby’s precise birth defect or injury, your obstetrician could be the person at fault. Perhaps (s)he failed to properly monitor you and your developing baby during your pregnancy. Perhaps (s)he failed to properly diagnose gestational diabetes or another condition you developed. Perhaps (s)he failed to discover that your developing baby had an infection or a nutrient deficiency. Perhaps (s)he prescribed a drug for you that harmed your baby.