Difference Between a Birth Defect and a Birth Injury: Portland Birth Injury Lawyer

HIE oregon birth injuries portland birth injuries hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy abnormal behavior in newborns difference between a birth defect and a birth injury

What is the Difference Between a Birth Defect and a Birth Injury?

There is an important difference between a birth defect and a birth injury.  It is critical for a family to know the difference and what legal rights them may have.  It is also important for a family to know that, if they are unsure of the difference between a birth defect and a birth injury, they can always contact a Portland birth injury lawyer like ours at Kuhlman Law for a free case evaluation.

It is important to know that families can always seek legal representation in Oregon at our law firm without any upfront cost.  In fact, we also do not charge to accept and begin handling a case.  This is because we accept cases on a contingency fee agreement which means that we only get paid on a case a percentage of what we recover for you in a settlement or court award.  As a result, victims and the families can keep money in their pockets to help pay for bills while a loved one is out of work caring for a newborn who has serious injuries.

What is a Birth Defect?

According to the CDC, a birth defect occurs every 4 and a half (4 1/2) minutes in the United States, which translates into 1 in every 33 babies or about 120,000 babies each year.  The CDC defines a birth defect as “structural changes present at birth that can affect almost any part or parts of the body (e.g., heart, brain, foot).”  A birth defect can be identified before birth, during the labor and delivery process, or after birth.  Sometimes birth defects are not identified right away and it may be until the end of the first year of life that one is identified.  

Birth defects can occur at any time of the pregnancy and for any reason.  Some common causes of birth defects include the following:

  • Genetics
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome 
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking certain street drugs
  • Medication use
  • Conditions such as diabetes 
  • Having someone else in the family with a birth defect
  • Being older
  • Engaging in risky behavior while pregnant (i.e., extreme physical activity)
  • Being injured during pregnancy (i.e., in a car accident), and
  • Other common cases.

While some causes of a birth defect can be prevented such as avoiding alcohol, drugs, certain medications, and other risky activities, other causes of a birth defect simply cannot be avoided.  This includes certain defects that are genetically related.

What is a Birth Injury?

A birth injury is a type of injury or damage to a newborn caused before, during, or after labor and delivery.  A birth injury is not typically caused by genetics.  Rather, a birth injury is typically caused by the actions or inactions of another.  These actions or inactions are normally caused by a medical professional such as a doctor, nurse, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or another type of medical professional.  

Generally, this means that a birth injury is commonly caused by the careless, reckless, or negligent actions of a healthcare provider.  This is the largest difference between a birth defect and a birth injury that our Portland birth injury lawyer wants you to know about because a victim and his or her family may be entitled to compensation for a birth injury.

What are Some Common Types of Birth Injuries That are Not Usually Birth Defects?

Some of the most common types of birth injuries that are not birth defects, and therefore a family may be entitled to compensation for his or her injuries, includes some of the following:

  • Cerebral palsy or CP – this is controversial because most medical providers will say that we (the medical community) do not know what causes CP and it can be genetics or natural complications of birth.  However, the CDC website defines CP as “abnormal” development or damage to the rapidly developing brain of a fetus or newborn.  The largest known case of CP is a lack of oxygen during the labor and delivery process.  This can be caused by delays in a c-section, excessive use of vacuum extractors, prolonged labor and intense contractions, an umbilical cord prolapse or rupture, bacterial meningitis, kernicterus, and other types of conditions.  These conditions can all be readily observed, detected, and avoided with proper medical care.  Thus, even though a doctor will say that CP is caused by complications that cannot be prevented, the truth is that a reasonably prudent doctor would be able to identify, treat, and prevent these common causes.
  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy or HIE – brain damage caused by a decrease of oxygenated blood flow to the brain
  • Kernicterus – excessive buildup of bilirubin in the blood which is obvious in that a child has jaundice 
  • Developmental delays
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Brachial plexus injuries
  • Facial nerve injuries
  • Significant scarring, and
  • Other serious types of birth injuries in Oregon.

Therefore, the difference between a birth defect and a birth injury could be one of these types of birth injuries that make it more obvious.

Ask our Portland Birth Injury Lawyer for a FREE Case Review for a Birth Defect or Birth Injury Case

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form.  We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover. 

Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton,  Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles,  St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.  

We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.  

Please act quickly, there is a limited time (Statute of Limitations) in which you can bring a claim under the law.

For a free case evaluation


(541) 385-1999 in Bend, Oregon
(503) 479-3646 in Portland, Oregon
(612) 444-3374 in Minnesota

– or fill out the form below –

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