Every year, in the United States, 150,000 or more children are born with structural birth defects (malformations of organs and bones like spina bifida, heart defects and cleft palate). In subsequent months or years, many more children will be diagnosed with functional birth defects which are abnormalities in the systems that run the body like the neurological, immune and endocrine systems. Functional birth defects include conditions like intellectual impairment, autism, learning and attention disorders. Some birth defects result in a lifetime disability while others are fatal.
When a child is born or later diagnosed with a birth defect, parents often question “why this happened”. They may wonder if the condition was related to something that happened during pregnancy or delivery. While it is not always possible to know the cause of an individual birth defect, studies have found that some birth defects can be linked to exposure to prescription or over the counter medications, chemical exposure in the home or workplace, or toxic substances that contaminate the air or groundwater in communities. In other cases, complications of pregnancy and/or delivery may be a concern. When a child has birth defects that may have been caused by an exposure, parents may seek answers to the cause that may lead them to consider litigation.
Birth Defect Research for Children does not encourage nor discourage litigation, but we think that it is important for a family seeking counsel to consult with attorneys who have experience in this complex field. This is why we have developed a new section of our web site with attorneys from each state who specialize in birth defect and/or birth injury litigation. See Birth Defect Attorneys.
Common Causes of Birth Defects
- Prescription drugs: See our page dedicated to drug related lawsuits – it provides information on Accutane, anticonvulsant medications, Zofran, antidepressant medications and other drugs.
- Exposure to environmental toxins: including pesticides, heavy metals and hazardous chemicals that can be found in the earth, water or air.
- Exposure to toxic industrial chemicals: including those used in numerous technological, scientific and manufacturing industries. Such dangerous chemicals include solvents, paint thinners, engraving processing materials, cleaning fluids, and EGE’s (ethylene glycol ethers).
- Exposure to lead, the dense metallic element used as a building material or to make various forms of ammunition, fusible metal alloys, and radiation-blocking equipment.
For more information, see Birth Defects and Litigation.
Birth Defects vs. Birth Injuries
A birth defect is a structural or functional condition that happens while the infant is still in the womb whereas a birth injury occurs while the mother is in labor or in the process of delivery. Though they may share many similarities influencing the general health and function of a newborn infant, they can be set apart in terms of their cause, their impact on the child’s development, and in the way they are represented in court. See more on our Birth Defects vs. Birth Injury page. Seeking Legal Counsel The parents of a child with one or more birth defects may be concerned about a potential cause and may want to discuss the legal aspects of the matter with an attorney. It is important for those seeking advice to contact an attorney with expertise in birth defect lawsuits. Birth Defect Research for Children (BDRC) neither encourages nor discourages pursuing litigation; however, the BDRC web site offers listings for birth defect attorneys organized by state.
BDRC does not endorse any law firm or attorney. BDRC does not promote or encourage litigation, and we cannot guarantee any results from an engagement of an attorney.
To find out more information about litigation, see Birth Defects and Litigation.
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