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Birth defect or birth injury: What is the difference?

Posted by Frank Piscitelli | May 01, 2019 | 0 Comments

As an Ohio mom-to-be, you have every reason to believe that you will deliver a healthy baby when the time comes for him or her to be born. The vast majority of Ohio pregnancies do indeed go well, and the vast majority of babies born in Ohio come into the world healthy. Unfortunately, a very few suffer from birth defects or birth injuries.

Per FindLaw, statistics show that only 0.5% of babies born in the U.S. suffer from birth injuries, and only 7% suffer from birth defects. Despite these low numbers, however, your world and that of your baby's can turn upside down if (s)he becomes one of few instead of the many.

Birth defects

A birth defect usually results from your baby's genetic makeup or an injury (s)he sustains prior to birth. Sometimes the prescription drugs you take during your pregnancy can cause a birth defect, especially if you take one or more of the following:

  • Ortho-Gyno, a birth control drug
  • Bendectin, a nausea prevention drug
  • Delalutin, a miscarriage prevention drug

The chemicals, called teratogens, these drugs contain can harm your unborn baby, causing a variety of birth defects.

Birth injuries

Unlike a birth defect which occurs long before your baby's actual birth, a birth injury happens while you are in labor and in the process of delivering your baby. Usually, birth injuries occur when you develop complications during your labor and your OB/GYN must use such things as vacuum extraction, forceps, etc. to aid your baby's birth.

The most prevalent birth injuries today include the following:

  • Erb's palsy
  • Fractures of your baby's shoulder(s), arm(s) or collarbone
  • Swelling to your baby's head and/or scalp
  • Paralysis to your baby's face

While you cannot change your baby's genetic makeup, you can lessen his or her chances of having a birth defect or receiving a birth injury by taking exceptionally good care of yourself while pregnant. Make regular pre-natal visits to your doctor and follow his or her recommendations. If (s)he should recommend that you begin a prescription drug regimen, however, be sure you understand all the risks as well as the benefits.

Although you should not construe this information as legal advice, it can help you better understand the difference between birth defects and birth injuries.

About the Author

Frank Piscitelli

As a first-generation Italian in the United States, Frank is no stranger to tough times. His father's family moved to Cleveland from Italy on May 22, 1958, with a few articles of clothing, some personal items and very little money. His family shared a home with three other related families but happily worked long hours doing jobs that involved physical labor, just to put food on the table. There was the promise of hope and opportunity, which was missing before his family moved here.


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Attorney Frank Piscitelli has nearly 30 years experience representing individuals and families against large corporations and insurance companies. His practice is limited to wrongful death and very serious injury cases.

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