The discovery of a birth defect can be frightening and overwhelming for the family of a baby born with a physical or developmental abnormality or deficiency. Dealing with a baby’s birth defect can be an emotionally draining experience for the entire family and additionally often requires a lifetime of specialty care and medical procedures, adding a taxing financial burden for years to come.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 33 babies in the United States, or 120,000 babies every year, is born with a birth defect, which is described by the CDC as “serious conditions that are changes to the structure of one of more parts of the body.”
Many birth defects are unavoidable congenital conditions passed on from one generation to the next, but some cases are caused by the negligence of professionals in the medical community who have not properly diagnosed, treated, or otherwise care for the mother and her her unborn child. In cases of medical malpractice and negligence, an experienced and qualified team of respected personal injury attorneys can take the proper steps to make accurate assessments of cause, and work to negotiate a fair liability settlement from those responsible.
Contact the personal injury legal experts at Cooney & Conway for a free case evaluation for your situation. Call 800-322-5573 today or fill out the contact information form located on this page and a knowledgeable representative will promptly respond to your inquiry.
Common Types of Birth Defects Range from Minor to Severe
The effects of and treatments for birth defects, birth injuries, and birth trauma can vary greatly, from minor and easily treatable conditions to severe, life-long disabilities. Causes of birth defects can vary widely and liability can often be linked to multiple sources. If a child in your family was born with a defect, contact a professional legal expert with whom you can discuss and explore your options and file a birth defects lawsuit.
The most common types of birth defects include:
- Anencephaly: This typically fatal neural tube defect occurs when a baby is born with an underdeveloped brain, and is caused by prescription drugs, antidepressants, or contraceptives. A medical professional’s failure to educate a mother about which drugs to avoid or properly monitor a mother could be cause for a birth defects lawsuit.
- Cleft palate/cleft lip: Babies born with a cleft palate or cleft lip usually require surgery to repair the defect. Cleft palates or lips can be caused by insufficient amounts of folic acid, taking the fertility drug Clomid, or other outside pharmaceutical influences.
- Congenital heart defects: The most common birth defects are congenital heart defects (CHDs), which affect the flow of blood in the heart and throughout the entire body. If an echocardiogram is not performed to identify heart defects before birth or if the defect was misdiagnosed as a heart murmur, medical providers could be held liable in a birth defect medical malpractice lawsuit.
- Craniosynostosis: A condition that occurs when the bones of a baby’s skull fuse together too early, causing the baby’s skull to be misshapen. Some craniosynostosis cases have been linked to the use of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) drugs prescribed by a doctor during pregnancy.
- Encephalocele: Linked to the use of a class of antidepressants, encephalocele is a neural tube defect that causes the brain and skull to protrude and can result in long-term disabilities.
- Gastroschisis: This birth defect, which develops during gestation, causes an opening to form in the baby’s abdominal wall and pushes the bowels through the hole, forcing the development of the baby’s bowels to occur outside the body in the amniotic fluid. This birth defect develops while a woman a pregnant. There are no fetal intervention options for gastroschisis and surgery must be performed immediately after birth. If gone undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, a medical malpractice negligence lawsuit may be appropriate.
- Hypospadias: A physical abnormality that develops in males during pregnancy, hypospadias is a congenital birth defect which can generally be surgically repaired Medical negligence related to hypospadias can include a failure to warn mothers against potentially harmful drugs or a medical professional’s readiness to prescribe drugs linked to congenital birth defects such as the fertility drug Clomid, or the anti-nausea drug Zofran.
- Limb deficiencies: Birth defects related to limb deficiencies can include missing limbs, webbed feet or hands, shortened limbs, blood circulation issues, and extra toes or fingers. While the causes of these deficiencies are often difficult to determine, exposure to certain medications has been linked to some congenital limb deficiencies and defects.
- Microcephaly: This condition results in a baby’s head developing smaller than normal, which can trigger a variety of physical problems affecting vision, hearing, balance, learning ability, and developmental progress. While microcephaly is often unavoidable, it can be caused by medical error or negligence.
- Microtia and Anotia: The drugs Zofran and Clomid have been linked to birth defects affecting the ear and deformities in other parts of the body. Some studies show that the acne medication Accutane significantly increases the chances of these types of birth defects occurring. Diabetic mothers and pregnant women with a folic acid diet and lower carbohydrates are also at higher risk.
- Neural tube defects: While used as a more generic term for a number of birth defects affecting a child’s brain or spinal cord, the two most common types of neural tube defects are spina bifida and anencephaly. There is no known cure for neural tube defects. Pregnant women are advised that taking folic acid while pregnant decreases the likelihood of a neural tube defect to happen to their child.
- Omphalocele: This genetical birth defect, also known as exomphalos, occurs when organs such as the liver or intestines develop outside the abdomen in a sac located at the base of the umbilical cord. While the use of tobacco and alcohol can be risk factors and causes linked to omphalocele, serotonin-reuptake inhibitor users of drugs such as Paxil and Zoloft are also at risk.
- Phenylketonuria (PKU): While phenylalanine is an important amino acid in small quantities, it can pose a dangerous health risk when consumed in larger amounts. PKU is a hereditary disorder leading to an unhealthy buildup of phenylalanine. While it is congenital and cannot be classified as medical malpractice, it is still wise to consult an experienced attorney if your child has been diagnosed with PKU.
- Spina bifida: Translated to mean “open spine,” spina bifida is the most common neural tube defect, occurring when the neural tube does not develop properly during pregnancy. Although it is difficult to determine causation, a medical malpractice lawsuit may be appropriate if medical professionals failed to promptly diagnosis or propose proper treatment options for the condition.
Contact Experienced Birth Defects Personal Injury Lawyer
If you find yourself in the painful position of needing to file a birth defects lawsuit, you will need a qualified legal expert to wade through the complicated and emotional process. Call Cooney & Conway toll free at 800-322-5573 for complete information about your options in the event you need an experienced and qualified birth defect lawyer.
You can also fill out the Case Evaluation contact form on this page and an experienced personal injury attorney will promptly respond to your inquiry.