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What are the four causes of birth defects?

by John Hensley
What are the four causes of birth defects

Birth defects can be caused by a combination of factors including genes, exposure, and the quality of medical care during the birthing process. When they are caused by medical malpractice, it is exceptionally heartbreaking. The personal injury attorneys at Maho Prentice, LLP in Santa Barbara say that when plaintiffs file these types of cases, they don’t just think about the medical debt that they already incurred. Seeking compensation in a birth defect case can offset the cost of expensive, long-term medical treatment for your child and can help improve their quality of life. Talk to a birth injury lawyer about what damages you are entitled to.

Undetected Fetal Distress

The medical professional providing your prenatal and birth care should be well aware of the signs of fetal distress, including:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Intense cramping
  • Abnormally fast or slow fetal heart rate
  • Decrease in fetal movement

Fetal distress requires immediate medical intervention to prevent life-long health consequences or death. It is one of the most unbearable pains to carry a child for nine months only to suffer due to a doctor’s negligence. If your healthcare provider did not identify these warning signs, then you may be eligible to receive compensation for your medical expenses in a medical malpractice case. 

Oxygen Deprivation

Not getting enough oxygen during birth can permanently injure the infant’s heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain. Oxygen deprivation can be the result of the placenta separating from the womb too soon, prolonged labor or umbilical cord prolapse. Brain damage can start after the baby has not been breathing for three to five minutes. At around 10 minutes, there is a serious risk of permanent brain damage. Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a common type of oxygen deprivation injury. 

Lifelong Expenses

There is no cure for CP, only therapies, medications, orthotic devices, lifts and other mobility aids. A child with CP will need lifelong care at a cost of almost $1 million. That includes social care costs and productivity costs. 

Blunt Force Trauma

Forceps and vacuums aren’t used as often anymore because of the high risk of bruising or other  injury to both the mother and child. Unfortunately, some medical professionals still use them to assist with birth. Forcep delivery complications can result in eye trauma, fractured skull and nerve damage.

Long-Term Effects

Use of either forceps or a vacuum can lead to vision problems and physical impairment in children, which they may or may not grow out of. Mothers can suffer short-term urinary incontinence and blood clots in the legs or pelvis.


Pregnant women should avoid certain medications to avoid risk to the unborn fetus. Doctors and pharmacists should know which ones are safe for pregnant women to take so that they can treat any other conditions or illnesses that the woman suffers from during gestation. Some antibiotics, anti-anxiety medications and anti-nausea medications (for morning sickness) can lead to congenital anomalies like cleft palates, cardiovascular issues, lung issues, and limb abnormalities.

How an Attorney Can Help You

When you are grieving after a traumatic birth, you need the help of a compassionate attorney who can take care of building your case for you. It’s hard to go up against a hospital or doctor, so a personal injury attorney does that for you. A birth injury attorney represents you in front of the insurance company and fights for you to receive the maximum compensation you deserve to cover all of your damages, from lost wages to long-term medical care. Most birth injury attorneys offer a free consultation, so there is no risk in setting up your case evaluation today.

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