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  4.  » The differences between birth defects and birth injuries

The differences between birth defects and birth injuries

When you become an Illinois mother-to-be, you naturally do all you can to make sure your pregnancy progresses smoothly so that your developing baby can have the opportunity to grow in the best possible environment. Still, you likely cannot help worrying about your baby’s health and welfare, both before and after his or her birth.

Fortunately, only about 0.5 percent of live U.S. births result in the baby receiving a birth injury. The birth defect rate is somewhat higher, coming in at 7 percent. Even with these low risks of your baby receiving a birth injury or having a birth defect, however, the results of either could be catastrophic and leave your baby facing a lifetime of problems and/or disabilities.

Birth defects

Unlike a birth injury, your baby evidences a birth defect well before the time of his or her birth. Usually it results from his or her genetic heritage, but sometimes it could be the result of sustaining a traumatic injury while in your womb. Still other birth defects result from the chemicals, a/k/a teratogens, contained in drugs that your doctor recommends you take during your pregnancy, such as the following:

  • Bendectin, a drug that prevents or minimizes nausea during pregnancy
  • Delalutin, a drug that prevents miscarriage
  • Ortho-Gyno, a drug for birth control

Obviously you have no control over your baby’s genetic makeup. You do, however, have control over what drugs you take during your pregnancy and what activities you participate in that may cause injury or harm to your developing baby.

Birth injuries

By definition, a birth injury is one your baby sustains during the process of labor and delivery. Almost invariably, a birth injury occurs because you develop complications during labor and your doctor negligently uses a delivery aid, such as vacuum extraction, the wrong forceps, etc. The most common U.S. birth injuries include the following:

  • Forceps marks and/or bruising
  • Erb’s palsy
  • Swelling of your baby’s scalp
  • Fractures of your baby’s shoulder(s), arm(s) or collarbone
  • Facial paralysis

Your best strategy to prevent both birth defects and birth injuries is to take really good care of yourself during your pregnancy. Get plenty of prenatal care and follow all of your doctor’s instructions. On the other hand, question him or her closely about why you need to take any prescription medications (s)he recommends.


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