Defined simply as a physical impairment an infant may sustain during labor and delivery, birth injuries are commonly associated with forms of medical malpractice or negligence. Since many common birth injuries are caused by preventable measures like insufficient oxygen to the fetus or the use of dangerous tools, it can be easy to think that they can be avoided using different birthing techniques.
However, not every birth injury is preventable, and misinformation around what can be classified as a defect versus an injury can do more harm than good.
What Happens Prepartum
Every mother and obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) aims to deliver a healthy baby. However, much of that relies on the health of the mother and how her pregnancy is monitored. If signs of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, or insufficient oxygen go unnoticed, your pregnancy's risk factor increases.
With the misdiagnosis of these conditions, many experience preventable birth injuries or medical malpractice during the pregnancy. However, not every condition that a child is born with is a birth injury but likely a defect caused from these undiagnosed or unnoticed issues.
Birth Injury vs. Defect
Unlike a birth injury, a defect exists before the labor and delivery process. These develop in the womb and are usually detectable during the first trimester or around 13 weeks. However, not every defect is detectable, and the ones that could go unnoticed may be leading to birth injuries.
A fetus' ability to get oxygen while still in the womb and their ability to breathe during labor and delivery is crucial. If something should obstruct this - like the umbilical cord or placental infarction, birth injuries can result from hypoxia or oxygen deprivation.
However, it's not always so easy to tell that this is going on during pregnancy. While ultrasounds can typically show if the umbilical cord is wrapped, it may not be until the delivery process that the doctors are aware. At this point, a congenital birth defect may have already been caused but resulted in conditions usually associated with a birth injury. Likewise, there have been recent studies about the link between cleft palates and hypoxia during delivery.
This is why you cannot definitively say that all birth injuries are preventable, even though most of them are. There may be things going on inside that both the mother and doctor are unaware of until it’s too late.
Preventable Birth Injury? We Can Help
If it is determined to be a preventable injury sustained during birth, you may want to consider discussing your potential case with an experienced birth injury attorney. James Wood Law has been committed to combating medical malpractice for over 25 years and will work with you to achieve adequate compensation.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, call (505) 906-6774 or visit our website.