Each year thousands of babies in the U.S. are unfortunately born with birth defects for many different reasons, teratogens are among them.
Unfortunately, a number of children all over the world suffer birth injuries and birth defects in varying degrees. There are a number of internal and external factors, conditions and care taken pre-delivery, post-delivery and during the time of birth, that can result in a birth injury or a birth defect.
What is a Birth Defect?
A birth defect is defined as an abnormality of function, structure, or metabolism that is present at birth. It is most commonly caused in the first trimester of pregnancy, but can also occur anytime during the pregnancy term, or even during delivery. Birth defects can be minor, severe or fatal, affecting appearance, internal organ function, compromised mental or physical development.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that birth defects affect 1 in every 33 babies that are born in the U.S. They are the leading cause of infant deaths, accounting for 22% of all infant deaths.
What Causes Birth Defects Among Babies?
A multitude of reasons can be attributed to birth defects. It is known that there are over 4,000 types of defects caused by various factors ranging from environment, genetics and negligence.
Teratogens – If an expecting mother is exposed to any substance that causes hindrance in the development of the embryo during pregnancy that results in a birth defect, is called a teratogen. Teratogens can cause defects by damaging the fetus directly, damaging the placenta or the umbilical cord, or cause premature contractions and labor, stressing the fetus. Expectant women can be exposed to such teratogens due to the negligence of a third party, for example, at the work place.
Prescription drugs – Some of the over-the-counter and prescription drugs prescribed to pregnant women can cause harm to a developing fetus, causing birth defects. It is estimated that 1 in every 10 birth defects is caused by over-the-counter or prescriptions drugs used by pregnant women. It is the responsibility of the doctors prescribing the medication, to ensure that the drugs are safe for the well-being of both the mother and the baby.
To be sure that a certain drug is safe to take while you’re pregnant, consult your doctor. Some of the known prescription drugs that can cause birth defects may include:
- Antibiotics like sulfa drugs, tetracyclines, and ciprofloxacin
- Benzodiazepines like sleeping pills, tranquillizers, and anti-anxiety pills
- Dermatological drugs containing Accutane and Soriatane
- NSAIDS: Drugs belonging to the Aspirin family
- Anti-depressants like Paxil, Prozac
- Anti-cancer drugs like Bulsulfan, Cyclophosphamide, Methotrexate, Mercaptopurine, Chlorambucil, Anti-seizure medications
- Certain thyroid medication, certain blood pressure drugs, sex hormones, Asthma medicines
Environmental hazards – Certain chemicals present in our environment, like arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, PCB’s, chlorine, organic solvents such as toluene, pesticides, etc. and carbon monoxide are known to cause serious birth defects. If an expectant mother is exposed to such toxins, via inhalation, ingestion or skin absorption, the fetus is at risk of developing birth defects. Working women, especially those working in the industrial/manufacturing sector, could face risks of teratogen exposure during pregnancy.
Contact a Chicago Birth Injury Lawyer
Failure of a doctor or medical professional to respond correctly, diagnose a condition, or pay attention leading up to and throughout a birth, can result in a debilitating injury to your newborn. The severity of birth injuries can vary from something minor like bruising to something life altering and permanent like cerebral palsy.
Coping with the cost of a birth related injury can devastating. This financial burden is isn’t one you should have to carry. Receiving compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, disability, emotional stress and loss of companionship are all damages you are entitled restitution for.