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What is the difference between birth injury and birth defect?

When a California mother has a child, families likely anticipate that it will be a joyous occasion. Unfortunately, however, sometimes circumstances go awry and mistakes are made, whether during the course of a woman's prenatal care or during the delivery process. When a doctor or nurse has made a major mistake, sometimes there can be substantial consequences for a newborn baby, including the possibility of a birth injury.

Though a common misconception, birth injuries are not the same thing as birth defects. Birth defects typically occur due to factors that impact a woman and baby during the pregnancy, whereas birth injuries often occur due to mistakes during the childbirth process itself. Often, a birth injury will occur when a doctor or nurse has made a mistake in addressing one of the many potential complications that can arise during a mother's pregnancy and delivery, thus resulting in serious injury to an infant.

In some cases, the extent of a medical professional's mistake may rise to the level of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional, in performing his or her duties, deviates from a standard of care that other similarly trained professionals would have used, and such negligence results in patient harm.

Birth injuries are alarmingly common, affecting five out of every 1,000 babies born in the United States. If your child has been affected by a birth injury, you may wish to consult with an attorney regarding your legal options. A child who lives following a birth injury may be entitled to legal damages due to the injury, and the child's parents may also be able to recover damages for emotional distress depending on the circumstances of the case.

Source: FindLaw, "Birth Injury FAQ," accessed Aug. 12, 2016

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