Do you know the difference between a birth defect and a birth injury? If not, then you certainly are not alone. It is very common for these to be mistaken for one another, but some key differences set them apart. If you need to get appropriate medical treatment for your child, or if you are working with a birth injury lawyer in Knoxville to seek damages, then it is important to know these differences.

Birth Injury vs. Birth Defect

When it comes to separating birth injuries from birth defects, one of the key differences is how and when the condition developed. A birth injury will develop immediately before, during, or after the birth. In most cases, this is a result of physical trauma or medical negligence during childbirth. A birth injury lawyer in Knoxville will seek to prove that a birth injury could have been prevented if the mother and baby had received the appropriate care during labor and birth.

On the other hand, birth defects develop while the child is still in the womb, usually during the first trimester of the pregnancy. There can be various reasons for a birth defect; some seem to have no specific cause, while others can be triggered by external factors such as maternal medical conditions and the use of certain medications. According to the CDC, birth defects affect 1 in 33 babies born in the United States annually. This makes them more prevalent than birth injuries which occur at a rate of 7 in every 1000 births in the US. Some of the most common examples of birth defects include:

  • Congenital Heart Defects
  • Cleft Lip or Cleft Palate
  • Down Syndrome
  • Spina Bifida
  • Club Foot
  • Ventricular Septal Defect

Another distinguishing factor that separates birth injuries from birth defects is the length of time it takes for the symptoms to appear. In a birth defect, the symptoms will often be present at birth and may even be found during the pregnancy by ultrasound examination. However, birth injuries may not always be apparent immediately, with some children not being diagnosed until they are a few years old. Aside from these differences, there are many similarities and overlaps. There are some occasions when a birth injury lawyer in Knoxville will take a case involving a birth defect if there is evidence that an external cause such as a doctor prescribing inappropriate medication to the mother during pregnancy can be cited as the cause of the birth defect. However, this is relatively uncommon, and it is far more likely that a doctor will be held accountable for a birth injury as these are seen to be preventable, whereas birth defects are not.

What is Considered a Birth Injury?

In the most general of terms, a birth injury is any type of injury that occurs to the mother or baby after labor begins. You may also hear it being referred to as birth trauma. If you believe that your child has been the victim of a birth injury caused by your doctor’s negligence, a birth injury lawyer in Knoxville will work with you to gather evidence proving your medical team did not provide an adequate level of care to you and your child, thus resulting in a birth injury that should otherwise have been preventable. With this evidence, your birth injury lawyer in Knoxville can help secure damages to help cover the cost of ongoing medical care that your child will need due to the birth injury.

Some of the most common birth injuries affecting the baby include:

  • Brain Damage
  • Brain Hemorrhaging
  • Seizures
  • Brachial Palsy
  • Facial Paralysis
  • Fractures
  • Cerebral Palsy

In terms of the birth injuries suffered by the mother, these will commonly involve things like Vaginal Tearing, Excessive Bleeding, and Hemorrhaging.

Suppose you or your child has suffered from a birth injury. In that case, returning to some degree of everyday life can be challenging, especially if the injury is a long-term injury or permanent disablement. Aside from the mental and emotional distress it might cause you as a parent, you may also have to cover seemingly endless medical bills, adapt to your home, or even lose earnings due to the extra time needed to care for your child following the birth. This is where a birth injury lawyer in Knoxville can help you to sue for compensatory damages. Receiving financial compensation won’t reverse your child’s injury, but it can help you to make their life a little bit more comfortable for them.


Butler, Vines and Babb is a leading law firm in Knoxville, TN, with extensive litigation experience in Medical Malpractice LawBirth Injury LawTrucking Accident LawPersonal Injury Law, and Business Law. Contact us today at or call 865-637-3531.

Please reference BV&B’s content disclaimer (located in this channel’s profile description) in regard to this shared content.