What Are Birth Defects?

A birth defect is an abnormality present at birth which may be debilitating or even life threatening. Having a baby should be a time of happiness for the parents, and fortunately, most pregnancies result in healthy babies.  However, complications can arise during pregnancy and labour which can result in birth defects or harm to the mother. The technological advancements in ultrasound scanning have meant that detecting abnormalities at an early stage is now possible in many cases. 

It is estimated that around half of all birth defects and abnormalities can now be detected before birth if ultrasound scans are performed correctly. However, if the sonographer performs the scan incorrectly this may result in abnormalities going unnoticed and untreated.  Blood tests are also used to detect some kinds of abnormality.

In cases of severe or life-threatening birth defects, or abnormalities that pose a serious risk to the mother, parents may wish to terminate the pregnancy. If the mother was not made aware of birth defects or abnormalities that should have been discovered during routine tests, she may be able to bring a “wrongful birth” claim.

The compensation in wrongful birth cases may be higher as it takes into account the extra costs of caring for and raising a child with profound and lifelong physical and mental disabilities. Other causes of birth defects can include those arising from the negligence or incompetence of medical staff to manage the pregnancy properly. Examples include mismanagement of maternal diabetes, damage to the baby caused by forceps delivery or brachial plexus injuries in cases where the mother should have been given an episiotomy or caesarean section.

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Examples of Birth Defects

There are a large number of different birth defects which can be caused by medical negligence either during pregnancy or labour.  Some examples include:

Sometimes birth defects are unavoidable, even with the highest standards medical care.   However, if it can be proven that medical staff were negligent in one of the following ways, you may be able to make a claim: Negligent in diagnosing a birth defect which would have caused the parents to opt for a termination, had they known about it OR Caused or contributed to the severity of a birth defect either by failure to diagnose the problem with routine testing or through clinical negligence during pregnancy or delivery.

Making a Claim for Compensation

If a birth defect goes undetected because of failures of medical staff to perform ultrasound scans or blood tests or to interpret the results of these tests accurately, you should consult a claims expert immediately.  In order to make a claim, it must be provable that medical staff were negligent. It’s important to seek legal advice as early as possible since there are strict time limits within which you will be able to make a claim. For more information on how Cute Injury can help you, get in touch today.

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