The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect, and these birth defects account for over 20% of all infant deaths. In addition, one in 303 babies is born with cerebral palsy, which can be caused by mistakes made during an infant’s birth. Oftentimes birth defects and birth injuries are preventable, although prevention and detection are important factors in both.
Development of the Problem
Whether a newborn baby’s health problem is categorized as a birth defect or as a birth injury is primarily determined by when the baby developed the issue. Birth defects develop well before the baby is born, either upon conception or sometime during the pregnancy. Birth injuries, on the other hand, typically occur during the birthing process, whether it is shortly before, during or after the actual birth.
Detecting the Issue
Many birth defects, including Down Syndrome and neural tube defects, can be detected during pregnancy though prenatal testing. Other birth defects may not be seen until right after the baby is born or even later in life, as can be the case with some heart defects. Birth injuries, since they occur during the birth process, cannot be detected during pregnancy, although factors that increase the risk of injury may be detectable. For instance, an umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck increases the risk that the baby will be deprived of oxygen during birth.
Preventing the Problem
Many birth defects are genetic, meaning they cannot be prevented. Genetic birth defects can often be detected through prenatal testing, however, letting you prepare for a child that may have special needs during his lifetime. Other birth defects, including neural tube defects, may be able to be prevented. The CDC recommends expectant mothers get at least 400 mg of folic acid daily before and during pregnancy, avoid alcohol and cigarettes during pregnancy, prevent infections as much as possible, and discuss getting vaccinations and taking other drugs with their doctors.
Unlike many birth defects, most birth injuries can be prevented, and as a result serious birth injuries are now rare when compared with previous numbers. One thing the mother can do is maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy to help prevent birth complications. Doctors can use ultrasound machines and other equipment to detect risk factors, and perform a cesarean section if necessary.
Even when a mother and doctor do everything they can to help bring a healthy baby into the world, birth defects and birth injuries do happen. There are many support groups available to assist the parents of children diagnosed with a birth defect or an injury during birth, but the financial hardship occurred as a result can be devastating. If your baby was diagnosed with a birth injury or preventable birth defect, Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC may be able to assist you. Please contact Seth Gladstein today through our online contact form or by calling us to see how we can help.