Birth injuries are often a result of preventable medical negligence that occurs during labor or delivery. Birth defects, however, develop during pregnancy, and may not be evident until the child is born. Many times, a birth defect is just an unfortunate anomaly that could not have been prevented; it was genetic, or related to an issue that could not be diagnosed.
Sometimes, however, birth defects are caused by the mother’s exposure to toxic chemicals from prescription medications take while pregnant, or environmental exposures at home or in the workplace. The father’s toxic exposure can also lead to birth defects.
What are birth defects?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines birth defects as structural changes present at birth that can affect almost any part or parts of the body, how the body looks, works or both. Birth defects can range from mild to severe, and they occur in about 1 in every 33 babies born in the U.S. each year, or about 120,000 babies each year.
Some birth defects are caused by genetic factors, but the cause of most birth defects is undetectable according to the Cleveland Clinic, which estimated that about 10% of birth defects are caused by environmental factors which includes infection, radiation, drugs and medication, and toxic contaminants.
Toxic environmental chemicals can cause birth defects
The developing fetus is exposed to many of the same hazards the mother is exposed to while in utero. Americans are exposed to millions of chemicals at home and in the workplace. Some of these chemicals can pose a serious hazard to the developing fetus.
Employers are responsible for protecting their employees – both male and female – from toxic substances which might contain teratogens. Science Direct defines teratogens as any environmental factor that can produce a permanent abnormality in structure or function, restriction of growth, or death of the embryo or fetus. Last year, an Illinois appeals court accused Motorola of “willful and wanton misconduct” that caused several of the employees’ children to suffer birth defects in utero because their fathers were exposed to toxic teratogens at its semiconductor plants. (Courthouse News) Plattner Verderame is vigorously pursuing dozens of cases against Motorola for birth defects suffered by the children of workers in their microchip factories, and we have already successfully resolved dozens of these cases. We are proud of the difference we have made in the lives of these children and their families.
Examples of toxic chemicals that could cause birth defects include:
- Methyl Ethyl Ketone
- Chlorinated hydrocarbons
Prescription drugs and pregnancy
Many women take over-the-counter and prescription medications while they are pregnant. Most of these drugs are safe to use for pregnant women, but some are not. Because pregnant women cannot be included in drug trials, the limited information about the safety of prescription medications during pregnancy is often discovered after a drug has caused some injuries.
Some prescription medications are teratogenic, including:
- Antibiotics such as tetracyclines and ciprofloxacin
- Dolutegravir, an HIV antiretroviral medication
- Valproate anti-seizure medication
- ACE inhibitors
- SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
If your child was born with a birth defect and you suspect it was caused by chemical exposure, you may have grounds for legal action. A Phoenix birth injury lawyer from Plattner Verderame, P.C. is ready to fight for justice for you. You may schedule a free consultation by calling us today at 602-266-2002 or completing our contact form.
I have been active in leadership in the Arizona Association for Justice (lawyers who represent injured folks, and formerly known as the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association) since 1985. I served as President in 1991. I was an active participant in battles to protect the Arizona Constitution from the insurance industry and big business interests in 1986, 1990 and 1994.
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