If a mother is infected with a certain class of disease, that disease can be passed to her child, either in utero, during child birth, or subsequent to the birth through breastfeeding.
Bringing a child into the world is an exciting endeavor, but one that is often fraught with uncertainty and anxiety. Expectant mothers often find themselves confronting concerns that they have never had before, like getting the correct proportion of vitamins per meal, avoiding certain types of cheese and fish, and sleeping in a way so as not to harm the baby. New mothers also find themselves consulting their doctors more frequently, and relying upon their advice on what to do.
Before future mothers even get pregnant, however, their doctors owe them a duty to correctly diagnose diseases and disorders. If a mother is infected with a certain class of disease, that disease can be passed to her child, either in utero, during child birth, or subsequent to the birth through breastfeeding. The phenomenon is called “vertical transmission,” and the effects can be minor, or devastating. If a doctor has negligently failed to diagnose a disease, or diagnoses the disease but fails to warn against pregnancy, that doctor can be sued by the mother who must care for the child. An experienced birth injury attorney can confront the doctor, hospital, and insurance company on the mother’s behalf to fight for the compensation each responsible party owes to the injured.
Diseases Transmitted In Utero
There are a handful of diseases, called congenital diseases, which a mother can pass to her unborn child while it gestates in the womb. Some have become less common due to modern vaccinations. Others are quite common, and many mothers can carry the disease without exhibiting symptoms.
Rubella, or German measles as it used to be known, is a disease that resembles the measles. Symptoms include fever and an itchy rash covering the whole body. If a mother contracts the disease while she is pregnant, her child is at risk for congenital rubella syndrome. The symptoms for the child are much more severe, including deafness, low birth rate, and intellectual disability. Since the development of the MMR vaccine, congenital rubella syndrome is very rare. However, with a resurgence of the anti-vaccine movement, it is possible for a mother not to have been vaccinated against rubella.
A more common disease is toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite. While there are a number of ways to become infected, a common way is accidental transmission from an infected cat to humans. In a healthy adult, toxoplasmosis has no known symptoms. However, in those with compromised immune systems, as well as unborn babies, the effects can be devastating. Unborn babies infected with toxoplasmosis are at risk for prematurity, stillbirth, and mental retardation.
Contact an Illinois Birth Injury Attorney
Both rubella and toxoplasmosis are diseases that can be diagnosed in the early stages of pregnancy, or when planning to have a baby. There are others as well, including human papilloma virus and HIV. A mother may decide not to get pregnant if infected with these diseases, and a doctor who fails to warn a mother before or during pregnancy may be liable. Contact Willens Law Offices at for a free consultation.