Was Your Baby’s Birth Defect Preventable? [infographic]

Although many birth defects are genetic, some are preventable and have been linked to prescription and over the counter medications, exposure to chemicals and toxins at home or in the workplace, or inadequate medical care during pregnancy. When birth defects are a result of negligence, money for medical bills, ongoing treatment and care, and other damages can often be recovered.

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Birth Defects


Types of Birth Defects

There are over 4,000 types of birth defects. These are classified based on the affected part of the body. If a baby is born with a part or parts of the body malformed, misconfigured, or missing, that is referred to as a structural birth defect. This includes heart defects, abnormal limbs, clubfoot, cleft palate, spina bifida, and congenital dislocated hip.

Conversely, when there’s a problem with how the body systems perform, the baby can be left with developmental and intellectual disabilities as a result of functional birth defects. This can be further classified into several subcategories, including metabolic disorders, sensory disorders, neurological disorders, and degenerative disorders.

Common Causes of Birth Defects

A baby can be born with a birth defect if a mother has certain infections or medical conditions like diabetes. Women who use alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs during pregnancy have a higher chance of giving birth to a baby with birth defects. Birth defects can also be genetically passed down from the parents.

Inappropriate medical treatment during pregnancy is another possible reason for birth defects. A doctor’s failure to provide adequate care and advice to a pregnant woman may cause birth defects that would have been preventable. Also, a physician who prescribes a medication that is known to be harmful to the developing child or a dosage that is dangerous can cause birth defects. Examples of dangerous prescription drugs include Zofran, Zoloft, Accutane, Prozac, anti-depressants, antibiotics, and anti-seizure medications.

Employers who knowingly expose pregnant women to environmental toxins, including hazardous chemicals, heavy metals, and pesticides can also be negligent. Women working in paint factories, beauty salons, metal cleaning operations, semiconductor manufacturing facilities, and in the agriculture industry are exposed to chemicals that may cause birth defects. Exposure to lead used as a building material or to make radiation-blocking equipment and various forms of ammunition can also cause birth defects.