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I Can Handle It

Birth defects vs. birth injuries

As I’m preparing to greet our new little bundle of joy (six weeks off, if he’s on time), I’ve been researching like mad about everything we need, and also everything that could go wrong. On the wrong side, it’s hard to read all of that, but I feel I owe it to myself and to Mark (that’s the little one) as well.

And, I’ve discovered something that I think I ought to share since while it’s awful, it’s also something that people need to be aware of so they can make the best choices for their families going forward.

So, what I’ve discovered is this: there’s a difference between birth defects and birth injuries.

On the one hand, things like Downs Syndrome and heart murmurs are birth defects. Those are things the baby would have been born with no matter what. They’re genetic issues, and nothing could have prevented them, unfortunately. In this case, there’s unfortunately little that can be done beyond caring for the child as best you can.

Not all defects, it’s worth pointing out, are absolutely awful. There are cleft palates, which are fixed easily enough with a small surgery. A club foot is also fixable. But, the main point is they are as inevitable as the birth itself once that baby is conceived. It’s in the DNA.

Birth injuries are another story. Those are due to mistakes made by doctors, nurses, or other professionals helping you in the birthing process. And this, to me, is particularly tragic because the problems were not inevitable, someone made a mistake for them to happen.

They can be no less awful for the family as well. Birth injuries include cerebral palsy, cephalohematoma (a dangerous condition where blood collects in the newborn’s head), and shaken baby syndrome.

I know all those possibilities are horrible to contemplate, but I want to point them out now, here, for other expectant parents, so that you can be aware that if such a tragedy occurs, you have a right to demand compensation for all the financial burden you’ll incur from taking care of that child from day one through the rest of your or his/her life.

A longer list of potential birth injuries can be found on this lawyer’s page, which by the way, you should have in the back of your mind. Not that lawyer, per se, but a lawyer, should any issues spring up involving your child.

As new parents, we are obligated to be prepared for everything. This is the worst side of that responsibility, but it’s a responsibility none the less. I don’t mean for you to be watching for a chance to sue your doctor or accuse him or her of malpractice. Giving birth should be a time of joy and as little stress and worry as possible (although I bet it’s still a lot…). Still, we have to watch out and be aware.

I owe that to Mark, and you owe that to your own little one, whoever he or she may be.

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