Birth Defects and Preventable Birth Injuries
The month of January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. According to the Kentucky Birth Surveillance Program (KBSR) nearly 5,000 babies are born with one or more birth defects each year and about 350 pregnancies a year end in a stillbirth in Kentucky. Tragically, babies born with a birth defect (preventable or not) are more likely to die before their first birthday, compared to babies born without a birth defect. And for those children that do survive, most will live with chronic pain, physical and developmental disabilities, leaving families burdened by catastrophic financial drains. These include expensive treatment and medical bills which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says total more than $2.5 billion each year in the U.S.
While several birth defects such as heart defects (the most common type of structural defect), spina bifida, cleft palate, clubfoot, and congenital dislocated hip may not be preventable, some defects caused by structural, functional or biochemical abnormalities and infant brain trauma can occur if:
- A medical provider was negligent in failing to diagnose a potential pregnancy or delivery issue. For example, if an infant does not receive enough oxygen during delivery due to a physician making a poor delivery choice or risky decision on behalf of the mother, conditions like Cerebral Palsy may occur. Or, if an infant is born with risky delivery tools such as forceps or via cesarean section and an injury arises, they may be at risk of a preventable defect such as shoulder dystocia or Erb’s Palsy.
- Some drugs and medications have been proven to be harmful to the fetus such as certain antidepressants and acne prescriptions. If a doctor fails to inform their expecting patient of the known medication risks, irreversible birth defects could develop.
- If a fetus is exposed to toxins and environmental pollutants, such as elevated concentration of agrichemicals and pesticides, while the mother is at work or at home, an increased risk for certain illnesses or defect in the baby are possible.
Expert maternal and prenatal medical attention, accurate and early diagnosis, timely treatment, and safe delivery practices are all needed to prevent birth defects. But when there is an absence of these prevention tactics, the law allows a family to seek responsibility for damages on behalf of their child.
In addition, the CDC says at least 700 women die every year from pregnancy or childbirth and 50,000 mothers suffer unimaginable injuries. Those shocking statistics support a July 2018 USA Today report that identified the U.S. as the most dangerous place to give birth in the developed world. The report says more than half of maternal deaths or injuries could be reduced or eliminated with better systems in place to identify issues and create standards for confident proactive pre/postnatal and postpartum care.
Talk to a Lawyer If Your Infant Has Been Injured or Impacted by a Preventable Birth Defect
Women should be able to trust that the care they receive during their pregnancy and throughout delivery will not put their baby at risk of a preventable birth defect or birth trauma. With offices in Owensboro and Madisonville, Rhoads & Rhoads represents birth injury and defect victims throughout Western Kentucky. We offer free initial consultations, and no payment required up front. Call us at 888-709-9329 or contact us by e-mail to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys.