Birth Injuries V. Birth Defects – What You Need To Know

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In the simplest terms, a birth defect is a condition or illness that develops while the infant is in the womb. A birth injury happens during labor or delivery. 

What Are Common Birth Defects?

As noted, a birth defect is a health condition present at birth. These defects can impact the shape or the function of one or more body parts or systems and can cause widespread health problems, problems with how the body works, or how it develops.  There are many birth defects, but the ones most commonly seen include:

  • Heart defects – Approximately 1 of every 100 babies is born with a heart defect, called a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD).  More than half of these are sufficiently serious as to require treatment. These defects can include blockages of blood flow, underdevelopment of sections of the heart, and abnormal blood flow through unusual openings or pathways through the heart. 
  • Spina bifida – a condition of the spine in which a neural tube defect is present at birth. When this happens, and the neural tube doesn’t close, the backbone does not form properly and cannot protect the spinal cord and nerves as intended. It can cause mild to severe physical and intellectual disabilities. 
  • Cleft lip and palate – a birth defect where the upper lip does not completely form and is left with an opening.  Cleft palate refers to the failure of the palate or the roof of the mouth to develop completely, which also leaves an opening. Less than 1% of births annually in the US are born with a cleft, with boys twice as likely to suffer the defect as girls. Cleft lip and palate are generally treated surgically, preferably by the age of 18 months.
  • Down Syndrome – the most frequently occurring chromosomal disorder and the leading cause of intellectual and developmental delay in the US. It is caused by the presence of an extra copy of Chromosome 21. The risk of a Down Syndrome birth increases as the mother is older at birth. Down’s currently occurs in about 1 in 700 births, compared to 1 in 1000 in 1990.  Today, approximately two-thirds of American mothers will abort when told they are carrying a Down Syndrome child. 

What Are Common Birth Accidents?

Generally speaking, a birth accident results from negligence and can lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit. Common birth accidents include:

  • Cerebral palsy – Approximately 2 to 3 of every 1000 children will suffer from cerebral palsy, a condition comprising lack of motor skill development, weak muscles, and frequent muscle spasms. It is often the result of damage to the brain and failure to properly monitor the laboring mother and fetal distress. There is no cure, and a lifetime of therapy may be necessary. 
  • Oxygen deprivation – lack of oxygen during delivery can cause brain injuries, leading to cerebral palsy or chronic seizures. Physical and intellectual disabilities can be the lifelong effects of extended oxygen deprivation during birth.
  • Spinal cord injuries – generally resulting from improper use of forceps, these injuries can result in paralysis and severe neurological problems. 

Contact A Greenville Birth Injuries Attorney Today

If you or someone you love has suffered the immense tragedy of a birth injury, you may be facing a lifetime of medical costs for your newborn. Let a birth injuries lawyer recover the compensation your child will need to live life to the fullest possible capacity. Contact us today for a free case evaluation or call 864-432-1747. 



1. How long do I have to file a birth injuries lawsuit?

A. Birth injury claims are generally litigated as medical malpractice. South Carolina gives you three years to file this suit, running from the date the injury was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered. The time is usually shorter for a government-owned defendant. 

2. Can I sue for a birth defect?

A. Generally, a birth defect is a matter of genetics rather than negligence and, therefore, would not be subject to a medical malpractice claim. While some jurisdictions may recognize a “wrongful life” case for a birth defect, the South Carolina Supreme Court declined to do so in 2004.  

3. What kind of damages can I recover for a birth injury?
A. The compensation recovered will be for medical and hospital expenses, assistive care and equipment, special education expenses, and generally the long-term causes of raising a child with the injury your child received. Pain and suffering may also be awarded.

The team at Bobby Jones Law LLC works tirelessly for the injured in South Carolina. His achievements include:
  • More than $60 million collected for our clients
  • Multiple recoveries exceeding $1 million, including an eight-figure settlement
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers in America
  • Named among the “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report
  • Named to the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers
  • Named to Super Lawyers 2017–2024
  • Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Selected as Legal Elite of the Upstate 2021–2023
We’re humbled to be considered one of the top firms in the Upstate and invite you to learn what sets our award-winning legal services apart. Call or request a consultation online.
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