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Is it a birth defect or a birth injury?

The birth of a child always represents a huge event in the life of a Pennsylvania parent, especially if this will be your first child. You dream about what (s)he will look like and about all the things you will be able to do with and for him or her once (s)he becomes the newest member of your family.

The last thing you want to think about is the possibility that your baby might suffer from a birth defect or birth injury. Fortunately, FindLaw counsels that birth injuries occur in only about 0.5 percent of births in the United States, and only about 7 percent of children suffer from a birth defect. Still, the possibility that your child may be one of the unlucky ones can strike fear in your heart.

Birth injuries

As its name implies, a birth injury occurs at the time of your baby’s birth, usually during the latter stage of your labor and delivery. Common birth injuries include the following:

  • Erb's palsy
  • Fractures to your baby’s arm(s), shoulder(s) or collarbone
  • Facial paralysis
  • Marks and/or bruising on your baby’s skin due to a forceps delivery
  • Swelling of your baby’s scalp

Birth defects

A birth defect, on the other hand, shows up well before your baby is born. Usually you discover such a defect by means of a sonogram or other test you undergo during pregnancy. Many times the birth defect occurs due to your baby’s genetic heritage, over which you have no control. Other birth defects, however, occur because your baby sustains an injury while you are pregnant or because of the chemicals in various prescription drugs that you may take during your pregnancy, including the following:

  • Delalutin, a drug you take to prevent miscarriage
  • Bendectin, a drug you take to prevent morning sickness
  • Ortho-Gyno, a birth-control drug

To minimize the risk of your baby developing a birth defect or suffering a birth injury, you should make sure to take care of yourself before you become pregnant and during your entire pregnancy. Always go to all of your pre-natal doctor’s appointments and follow his or her advice. When it comes to prescription drugs, however, be sure to thoroughly discuss with your doctor any drug (s)he recommends that you take and its possible side effects. Find out if you really need to take it or if you can forego all drugs during your pregnancy.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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