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What is the difference between a birth injury and a birth defect?

On Behalf of | Nov 20, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

In the realm of childbirth, complications can be a distressing reality. It is important, however, to distinguish between two distinct terms that are often used interchangeably in the medical world.

Both have profound implications for the child’s future, but they stem from different origins and involve varying aspects of medical care.

Birth injuries

Birth injuries are typically a result of complications or trauma that happen during the labor and delivery process. These injuries may show up as nerve damage or fractures. One common scenario involves the misuse of birthing tools like forceps. In some cases, medical professionals may fail to respond promptly to signs of fetal distress, contributing to oxygen deprivation and potential brain damage.

The key feature of a birth injury is its association with the delivery process. Healthcare providers need to ensure a safe and smooth delivery. Any negligence or error during this period can result in a birth injury.

Birth defects

On the other hand, birth defects are anomalies that originate during pregnancy. These abnormalities can affect various aspects of the infant’s anatomy, including the heart, limbs or internal organs. Genetic factors, environmental exposures or a combination of both influence birth defects. Birth defects happen to 1 in 33 babies born in America every year.


Understanding birth defects is important in recognizing that, in many cases, healthcare providers may have little control over their occurrence. While people can detect certain birth defects during prenatal care, their origins may not necessarily connect to medical negligence.

Individuals need to know the distinctions between birth injuries and birth defects. This understanding is fundamental for parents seeking to make informed decisions about their healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth.