Is It A Birth Injury Or Birth Defect?

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Birth Defect

What exactly is a birth defect? “It’s when a health condition or illness forms while the infant is still in the womb,” says Thomas Bumgardner, attorney with The Law office of Thomas D. Bumgardner, PLLC. It is not always possible to know the cause of an individual birth defect. Studies illustrate that some birth defects are linked to exposure to prescription or over the counter medications, chemical exposure or toxic substances that contaminate the air or groundwater in communities. In short, a birth defect can be triggered by the outside environment that the mother is in.

What could be the cause of birth defects?

Some of the outside environmental factors that may trigger a birth defect is if the mother is prescribed a medication that negatively affects the baby, or if the direct surrounding environment is harmful. Some examples are:

Antidepressant Drugs

Antidepressant drugs such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa and Lexapro are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors used with depression and have been associated with: heart defects, cleft lip and palate and omphalocele as possible birth defects.


Accutane is a prescription drug for treatment of the most severe forms of acne, such as severe cystic acne. It can cause birth defects and carries warnings that pregnant women or women who may become pregnant should not take the drug. Birth defects that may result include

visual impairment, hearing impairment and/or missing earlobes, facial malformations, mental retardation, heart defects, glandular and central nervous system malformations.


Pesticides contain many toxic chemicals that can cause birth defects in children whose parents were exposed through agricultural work, groundwater contamination or airborne drift. Parents who have worked in the farming industry or live near an agricultural area are at a high risk of exposure to pesticides used on the fields. The pesticides can damage the parents’ chromosomes and lead to birth defects in children who are conceived during or just after exposure. The defects include brain cancers, endocrine disruption, neurological disorders, lower birth weight and size, premature death and limb defects.


Several studies argue strongly that there is a relationship between birth defects and exposures to chemicals contained inside industrial solvents. Some of the industries that you can potentially become exposed are furniture making, medical and scientific laboratories, commercial printing, cosmetology producers, as well as plastics and the textile industry. Birth defects that can occur from exposure to these solvents include cleft lip/palate, neural tube defects, Anencephaly, Spina Bifida, Hydrocephalus, Cerebral Palsy, cardiovascular defects and digestive anomalies.

Birth Injury

A birth injury is a health problem that an infant is born with that is almost completely preventable. A birth injury can commonly result by twisting or pulling the infant improperly during the delivery period, improper handling and use of birth assisting tools, administering the wrong amounts or types of medication, failure to monitor distress and failure to perform an emergency cesarean surgery.

What Could be the Cause?

“Issues with medications, improper manipulation of the baby’s body, monitoring issues and human error are factors that lead to birth injuries and they can range on a scale of mild to severe,” says Bumgardner. Mild issues may not be noticed immediately, but severe issues may develop in just hours or days after the child is born. Birth injuries often results from problems during delivery, such as:

Delayed Birth

This is among the key causes for birth injury. This often results because too much pressure is on the baby’s head, as it tends to remain in the birth canal for too long. Most medical experts say that a labor lasting over 18 hours should be considered the ideal time for an emergency C-section. After that, the baby is going to be in distress because of the compression from the birth canal on the brain.

Oxygen Deprivation

Almost all brain related injuries during birth are due to oxygen deprivation. Spending too long in the birth canal can lead to a kinked umbilical cord, and a baby with too low of a birth weight may also suffer oxygen deprivation during delivery. Monitoring usually uncovers most of the threats before a woman goes into labor. If the symptoms are not caught in time, it can lead to brain injury.

Human Error/Malpractice

While we trust medical teams and experts to do their jobs, simple human error can result. A child may be severely disabled for life and require constant care, even when the results of the birth injury are deemed mild. These effects can impact the family and the child forever.

If you or a loved one believe you have suffered from medical malpractice, let the Law Office of Thomas D. Bumgardner provide you with the justice you and your family deserve. Schedule a free consultation with us at (704) 870-4779.

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