Birth defects affect 3% of all babies (one in 33, or ~120,000) every year. While birth defects affect babies in different ways, depending on the severity and what part(s) of the body are involved. Cooney & Conway is a plaintiff-only law firm in Chicago, Illinois, offering legal advice and judgment in birth defect cases. That’s why parents turn to us when they’ve been exposed to toxic (teratogenic) chemicals in the workplace, with billions in settlement agreements.
Exposure to prescription medications, toxic chemicals, or other environmental factors can lead to birth defects. While the causes of birth defects can vary, Cooney & Conway can offer professional insight and advice related to birth defect litigation. We’re a national leader with more than six decades of experience in representing catastrophically injured children.
What are Birth Defects?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a birth defect occurs when the baby is developing, usually during the first three months of pregnancy. Birth defects can range from a cleft lip or missing limbs to muscular dystrophy and spina bifida, or even brain damage and heart disease.
Workplace exposure is most common in agriculture, coal, electronic manufacturing, and high-tech industries. The range of toxic chemicals can involve pesticides, the electronic clean-room environment, or even heavy metal exposure. While some birth defects are easily diagnosed, some of the effects are not easily determined.
Birth Defects from Exposure
Semiconductor Worker Birth Defect Cases
The manufacture of computer chips and microelectronic equipment is a process that involves intense and continuous exposure to a host of dangerous chemicals and heavy metals. These chemicals and heavy metals have long been associated with birth defects, miscarriages, childhood cancers, stillbirths, and infertility. Unfortunately, a substantial proportion of the workers employed in these facilities are young women of childbearing age. Dangers are also applicable to the offspring of male workers, many of whom were born with the same severe birth defects due to chemical damage to their sperm. Further, these workplace exposures have also caused workers themselves to develop cancer.
Predictably, and tragically, over the years a horrifying number of children born to semiconductor and microelectronic workers have been born with severe birth defects, childhood cancers, or both.
These birth defects and cancers include the following:
- Spina bifida (paralysis of lower and sometimes upper limbs as well as brain damage)
- Cerebral palsy
- Severe heart defects
- Missing limbs and organs
- Brain damage
- Cancer of the eye (retinoblastoma), kidneys (Wilms’ Tumor), and brain (neuroblastoma)
The semiconductor and microelectronics industry has known about these dangers and resulting birth defects for decades. Instead of protecting their workers, however, the industry has consistently lied to workers, Federal and State governments, the European Union, and the obstetricians and gynecologists who cared for pregnant workers.
It is well known and documented that in the semiconductor and microelectronic industry that:
- Government and industry standards, when they existed, were commonly ignored or violated
- Chemicals that were known to be unsafe were used for decades, even after safer alternatives were developed
- The industry and its lawyers and upper management were aware of lawsuits decades earlier and prepared a defense while taking no steps to eliminate the harms
- Air monitoring and ventilation controls were lacking or grossly inadequate for decades
- Industry doctors and consultants repeatedly warned management of grave dangers and advised of necessary steps, but their warnings were ignored
- Workers were falsely assured that there were no dangers to their health
- Critical information was withheld from workers’ doctors
Lawsuits on behalf of these children, workers, and their families have been successful for injuries sustained in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Delaware, and foreign factories. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been recovered, and suffering families facing expensive lifelong medical and nursing care have achieved financial security and peace of mind.
These lawsuits are now also forcing this industry to clean up its act and prevent future children from suffering, but the industry’s greed and callous disregard for its workers and their children should be brought to justice. Call the experienced birth defect attorneys at Cooney & Conway toll-free at 800-322-5573, or fill out the form below and our dedicated team will be in touch with you promptly.
What are Toxic Environmental Factors?
Nearly 650,000 toxic chemicals are regularly used in workplaces, which can lead to dangerous exposure situations for parents and long-term side effects for their children. Genotoxin affects cellular DNA and leads to mutations, while teratogen can cause birth defects.
Continuous and intense exposure to heavy metals and toxic chemicals can lead to childhood cancers, infertility, miscarriages, and stillbirths, in addition to birth defects. Even though employers are responsible for protecting workers, safety standards or protective measures may have been violated or ignored.
Unsafe procedures may be continued instead of monitoring, using alternatives, or implementing proper ventilation. Some companies knowingly and with forethought continue bad practices while preparing for litigation when the effects of the contamination will be eventually discovered.
What About Over the Counter and Prescription Drugs and Pregnancy?
Pregnant women can be affected by over-the-counter and prescription drugs, which can lead to birth defects. How drugs will affect pregnant women is often untested and thus unknown, so the injuries and side-effects may only be determined when babies are born with birth defects.
Even when the negative side effects are known, there may be reasons to continue using potentially toxic medications. Medications like Accutane, ACE inhibitors, Antimetabolite, Benzodiazepines, Dolutegravir, SSRIs, Valproate, and Zofran are some prescription drugs associated with birth defects.
In some cases, the treatment benefits to the patient’s condition may outweigh the risks of birth defects. In other situations, a doctor prescribed the treatment without full awareness of the side-effects and/or without knowledge of the pregnancy.
Why Consider a Birth Defects Lawsuit?
If you have been exposed to chemicals or other toxins that may have led to birth defects, you need an advocate to help you determine whether there’s a link between birth defects and chemical exposure.
Even when the side effects are not obvious, learn disorders, autism, or other functional birth defects may be present. We work to determine who the responsible party is for the birth defect(s), and then we hold them liable.
We’ve successfully worked with our clients to get full and fair compensation via judgment or settlement, including consideration for medical treatment, rehabilitation, pain and suffering, damages, and even long-term care. Birth defects can involve medical assistance costs that quickly reach millions of dollars. So, the birth defects lawsuit is not a nicety. It’s essential.
Based in Chicago, Illinois, Cooney & Conway represents families and children who have been affected by birth defects due to the toxic exposure of their parents. When you sign up for a free evaluation, we’ll discuss your situation and offer feedback and advice on your next steps.