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

Giving birth to a new baby is a joyful time, but sometimes it becomes a time of great worry. If your child has something wrong that requires medical intervention upon his or her birth, then you may spend the first days of his or her life concerned about the future. During this time, you may ask many questions of the professionals at the hospital to try to understand what is going on with your baby.

One of the questions you may ask is “how did this happen?” Typically, when there is something wrong, it is either a birth defect or a birth injury. You should find out which one it is because that may affect what happens next.

Birth defects explained

According to MedlinePlus, a birth defect is something that happens during your child’s development in the womb. It develops as your child develops. Typically, a defect develops during the first trimester of pregnancy. Birth defects may occur in any part of the body, including internal, non-visible defects. They may be preventable in some cases, but most often are due to genetics. Exposure to toxins or medications and lack of nutrients during gestation may also lead to birth defects.

Birth injuries defined

A birth injury, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, is something that happens during labor and delivery. Injuries often occur to bones, muscles, nerves and ligaments. Sometimes they are unavoidable, but they may also happen due to carelessness or negligence on the part of the medical professional delivering the baby.

In both cases, the baby may suffer lifelong issues due to the defect or injury. Your baby may also need ongoing or additional medical care after you leave the hospital. The costs of treating a defect or injury may also be substantial. On the other hand, some defects and injuries are minor and may not affect your child’s quality of life.