Birth Defect Misconceptions

Birth Defect Misconceptions

Since birth defects are relatively rare in the general population, many people remain unaware of what they are or why they occur. Having a child with a birth defect can be a very traumatic experience, as parents may be completely uneducated about their child’s condition. Learning more about birth defects, what causes them, and how they are difference from other types of birth injuries can help clear up some common birth defect misconceptions, and help parents feel more empowered to handle treatment and care.

Birth Defect Misconception #1: A Birth Defect is the Same as a Birth Injury

There is a difference between Birth Defects vs. Birth Injury. The March of Dimes Foundation, which provides information regarding pregnancy, newborns, and much more, defines a birth defect as “any abnormality affecting body structure or function that is present from birth.” The foundation also reports that some of the most common birth defects include congenital heart defects, cleft lip and palate, Down syndrome and spina bifida (open spine).

A birth injury, on the other hand, is described as a physical impairment to body or structure as a result of influences that the infant is subjected to during birth. On occasion, a birth injury may appear as if it is a birth defect, when it is not. Cerebral palsy, for example, is a condition that can sometimes be brought on as a result of oxygen deprivation in the birth canal.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 2 to 3 infants out of 1,000 have cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a dynamic condition that inhibits movement, balance, and posture. As a result of cerebral palsy, some children have other difficulties including mental retardation, learning disabilities, seizures, abnormal physical sensations (difficulties with sense of touch), and problems with vision, hearing and speech.

Possible causes or triggers for cerebral palsy include the following:

  • Prematurity: According to scientific studies, a child born before 37 weeks that weighs less than 3 1/3 pounds is between 20 and 80 times more likely to be affected by cerebral palsy than a full term child. This may occur because the infant oftentimes suffers from bleeding in the brain, which may damage brain tissue.
  • Infections during pregnancy: Certain infections in the mother can cause brain damage and result in cerebral palsy.
  • Insufficient oxygen reaching the fetus.
  • Asphyxia (lack of oxygen) during labor and delivery.
  • Severe jaundice.
  • Blood clotting disorders (thrombophilias).

What Types of Delivery Injury May Affect an Infant?

Several different types of delivery injury or trauma can occur to a child during the birthing process, some of which include the following:

  • Brain damage
  • Cerebral palsy (as a result of oxygen deprivation)
  • Brachial plexus
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Hydrocephalus

What are Chromosomal Defects?

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, an estimated 1 in 150 infants in the United States is affected by a chromosomal defect at birth. Chromosomal defects are a result of errors or abnormalities in the number or structure of chromosomes. Some children suffering from chromosomal defects also have mental and/or physical birth defects. Sadly, some chromosomal defects may lead to miscarriages or stillbirths.

Some chromosomal defects include:

  • Down Syndrome: roughly 1 out of 800 infants affected
  • Turner Syndrome: about 1 out of 2,500 girls affected
  • Klinefelter Syndrome: affects about 1 out of 500 to 1,000 boys

How to Handle a Potential Birth Injury or Birth Defect

If you or a loved one has given birth to a child suffering from either a birth injury or a birth defect, contact one of Chaffin Luhana LLP’s birth injury or birth defect lawyers at 1-888-480-1123 immediately for a free and confidential case review. You may be eligible for compensation, and the lawyers at Chaffin Luhana can help.