When parents are awaiting the arrival of a new baby, they know that there are many steps that must be taken to ensure that the delivery is as safe and easy as possible. These steps always involve the help and support of a medical team that can include a range of professionals. Each person plays a key role, however, and most are involved almost from the earliest days of the pregnancy.
The reason that medical experts are so heavily involved in every phase of a pregnancy is to ensure that the baby and the mother are in the best condition possible. To do that requires regular checkups, the use of prenatal vitamins, different kinds of imaging to monitor the baby’s health and even exercise classes to support and assist during childbirth.
All of this teamwork can, sometimes, make it easy to forget that problems can and do occur right up to the moment a baby is born. For example, a baby may have a birth defect that remained undiagnosed until the day the baby arrives or something can go wrong during delivery and the baby is injured.
Sadly, as experienced and professional as any medical team can be, it is still made up of human beings who are fallible and who can make terrible mistakes. If mistakes are made, it is usually called a birth trauma or a birth injury. It is not, however, a birth defect.
The Differences Between Birth Defects and Birth Injuries
When a child has a birth defect, it is usually something that occurred at the very beginning of the pregnancy. It might have to do with a DNA-related issue, a cellular malfunction of some sort, or some other type of health issue. Common birth defects include cleft palates, Down syndrome, and other genetically related health problems.
They might also be due to something like the use of a harmful medication or exposure to some sort of chemical that had an impact on the baby during pregnancy.
Generally, birth defects are not issues that can be prevented in any way. A birth injury, on the other hand, is something that is usually preventable. Consider the most commonly cited causes for birth injuries:
- Improper physical manipulation of the baby during delivery – this can be by pulling or turning a baby incorrectly or through the use of tools such as vacuum extraction systems or forceps.
- Failure to monitor the baby for warning signs of distress – this might be a failure to monitor the baby’s heart rate or other vital signs.
- Use of improper medications during labor or pregnancy.
- Waiting too long or even failing to perform a cesarean section when it is needed.
- Human error – medical teams can fail to give constant attention, can be inexperienced, can be simply exhausted and cause some sort of birth injury. Additionally, a physician with the experience necessary for a high risk or difficult delivery may be unavailable, and a less experienced physician may deliver the baby and make mistakes in the process.
While you might understand how or why such mistakes are made, and lead to birth injury. It does not excuse any sort of medical negligence.
Negligence is Costly
Rarely is negligence due to anything other than simple human mistakes. Failure to monitor the baby’s weight, check for deficiencies during pregnancy, misreading imaging or the failing to monitor the mother closely can all lead to birth injury.
The results of birth injury can be temporary or lifelong. Many cause medical issues immediately, but one of the most disastrous of the birth injuries is cerebral palsy or CP. This is caused by oxygen deprivation, usually avoidable, and yet it is an incurable condition.
Though it can range from mild to severe, it always results in disability of various degrees and carries a hefty emotional and financial price for parents. This is why parents of children who suffer birth injuries should explore the cause and determine if liabilities exist. Though financial support does not undo the harm, it can provide a child with the highest quality of life afterward
- StanfordChildrens.org. Birth Injury. 2015. http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=birth-injury-90-P02340