January is “Birth Defect Awareness” month. This is a good time to discuss the sensitive topic of birth defects. It is estimated that 150,000 children are born each year with birth defects. Their parents will blame themselves for their child’s condition but this guilt is often misplaced.
Many birth defects are due to rare genetic disorders, and they are unavoidable. However, an equally large number of birth defects are caused by chemical or environmental exposure to toxins. Studies have shown that exposure to pesticides, fungicides, lead, heavy metals, certain paints, and other toxic substances can raise the probability of having a child with one or more birth defects. It has also been proven that doctors may negligently prescribe medications that contain substances that have been known to cause birth defects.
The number of birth defects caused by negligent toxic and chemical exposure is a major problem. This troubling rise has increased the need for qualified attorneys dedicated to the task of holding doctors, employers, and manufacturers accountable to the victims of birth defects and their caretakers.
What Are the Causes of Birth Defects?
- Prescription Drugs
- Anticonvulsant medications
- Antidepressant medications and other drugs
- Exposure to Lead or Mercury
- Lead in paint of rental properties
- Mercury can contaminate the water or air as a by-product of burning coal
- Exposure to environmental toxins
- Heavy metals
- Hazardous chemicals
- Exposure to Toxic Industrial Chemicals
- Solvents, paint thinners, paints, cleaning fluids, and EGE’s (ethylene glycol ethers
What types of birth defects are there?
Functional Birth Defects
Functional birth defects relate to problems in how a body system works. This can lead to developmental disabilities which can include:
- Nervous System and Brain Disorders
- Learning disabilities; intellectual impairment, behavioral disorders
- Speech and language disabilities
- ASDs (autistic spectrum disorders)
- Attention disorders
- Sensory Disorders
- Blindness (and other visual problems)
- Deafness (and partial hearing loss)
- Metabolic Disorders
- Certain processes that help the body break down certain substances leading to a buildup of harmful toxins (e.g. Phenyhlkentonuria, where the body cannot break down the amino acid phenylalanine)
- Issues with the dysfunction of endocrine glands like the thyroid leading to hyper or hypothyroidism
- Degenerative Disorders
- The child seems to be developing normally but suddenly starts to lose function and previously acquired skills (e.g. Rett Syndrome, muscular dystrophy and X-ALD)
- Immune disorders
- The child’s immune system does not function sufficiently to protect them from infections, allergic reactions, asthma, autoimmune diseases or certain cancers.
Structural Birth Defects
As opposed to functional defects, structural defects are visible deformities or malformations of internal organs that are present at birth. They can have grave, adverse effects on the health, development, or functional ability of the child. Some defects can be fatal.
- Anophthalmia / Microphthalmia
- Cleft Lip / Cleft Palate
- Congenital Heart Defects
- Atrial Septal Defect
- Atrioventricular Septal Defect
- Coarctation of the Aorta
- D-Transposition of the Great Arteries
- Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
- Pulmonary Atresia
- Tetralogy of Fallot
- Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return
- Tricuspid Atresia
- Truncus Arteriosus
- Ventricular Septal Defect
- Diaphragmatic Hernia
- Down Syndrome
- Esophageal Atresia
- Spina Bifida
- Upper and Lower Limb Reduction Defects
If your child has a birth defect, please contact Basch & Keegan for a free initial consultation and case evaluation. Our attorneys have the knowledge and dedication required to handle the complexities associated with cases involving birth defects.