Nearly 120,000 children in the U.S. are born with a birth defect each year. Birth defects can range from mild to debilitating, affecting a child’s lifespan and quality of life.
January was established as National Birth Defects Prevention Month in an effort to help raise awareness of the severity of birth defects and to provide information about how to prevent them from occurring.
Do Birth Defects Commonly Occur?
Birth defects occur in one in 33 children born in the U.S. and are the leading cause of newborn deaths, with a fatality rate of one in five infants. Birth defect treatments amount to an annual $2.6 billion in hospital bills each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What Can Cause a Birth Defect?
A Birth defect can develop for several reasons and range in their effects on newborns. Most birth defects are formed within the first three months of gestation as a fetus’s organs develop. However, defects can develop at any point during a woman’s pregnancy and are often caused by:
- Extra chromosomes present in the fetus, which can result in Down syndrome and other conditions
- Fetal alcohol syndrome from alcohol or drug use
- Negligence during birth on behalf of the attending medical staff
- A family’s genetic history
- Maternal age over 34-years-old at the time of the delivery
- Taking certain medications while pregnant
Are Birth Defects Preventable?
Doctors believe that pregnant women can prevent birth defects by avoiding and embracing certain behaviors, some of which include:
- Taking 400 micrograms of folic acid each day to decrease the likelihood of neural tube defects
- Not consuming alcohol or recreational drugs while pregnant
- Not smoking while pregnant
- Consulting your physician regarding the medications you take to determine if they are safe to continue while pregnant
Identifying Birth Defects
In most cases, birth defects are identified in the first year of a child’s life. While physical birth defects, such as a cleft palate, are identifiable at birth, defects affecting internal organs may take longer to discover. Medical testing may be required to identify birth defects, such as X-rays, echocardiograms (ultra-sound images of the heart) or hearing tests.
In some cases, birth defects may be the result of a medical professional’s negligence in his or her care or monitoring of a newborn or unborn baby and the mother. In these situations, the family may have legal options for recovering compensation to help pay for high costs of medical care and other damages.
With decades of experience representing families of birth injury victims, the dedicated birth injury attorneys at Janet, Janet & Suggs are very familiar with what you may be going through during this time. We provide our services on a contingency fee basis and our free initial consultation will help determine the legal options that are in your best interest.
Call 1-877-692-3862 if you have any questions for our birth injury attorneys.