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January Is National Birth Defects Prevention Month

by John Gomez | Last Updated: January 6, 2017
Birth Defects

There are few if any things more challenging for a family than when a child is born with birth defects.  Every parent knows the fear of such an occurrence when they are expecting.  Sadly, a surprisingly high number of parents in the United States are forced to face that reality.  Birth defects are so common that January is known as National Birth Defects Prevention Month.  Unfortunately, many of these problems are the result of negligence on the part of medical professionals and the use of defective medical products and medications.  The birth injury lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys want to help raise the awareness of the problem that is birth defects.  Below you’ll find a brief overview of the issue.

Overall Birth Defects Statistics

One look at the statistics regarding birth defects in the United States should alert anyone to the enormous scope of this problem.  According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, or PCRM:

  • Approximately 150,000 infants are born every year in the United States with birth defects.
  • 1 in 33 infants born in the United States suffer from a major malformation at the time of birth.
  • 6-7 percent of children show some form of developmental defect by the time they reach their first birthdays.
  • 12-14 percent of children show a developmental defect by the time they reach school age.
  • Birth defects are the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States.
  • The estimated cost of caring for children born with at least one birth defect is approximately $1.4 billion per year.

More children are born every year in the United States with immediately-recognized birth defects than there are people who live in Syracuse, New York.  The problem remains extremely prevalent.

Specific Birth Defects Statistics

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, publishes statistics relating to specific types of birth defects.  Those interested in reviewing the full report can find it here.  Some examples of these statistics, broken down by birth rates include:

Central Nervous System/Brain and Spinal Cord Defects

  • Anencephaly – 1 in 4,859 births
  • Spina bifida without anencephaly – 1 in 2,858 births
  • Encephalocele – 1 in 12,235 births

Eye Defects

  • Anophthalmia/microphthalmia – 1 in 5,349 births

Heart Defects

  • Common truncus – 1 in 13,876 births
  • Transposition of great arteries – 1 in 3,333 births
  • Tetralogy of Fallot – 1 in 2,518 births
  • Atrioventicular septal defect – 1 in 2,122 births
  • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome – 1 in 4,344 births

Orofacial Defects

  • Cleft palate without cleft lip – 1 in 1,574 births
  • Cleft lip with or without cleft palate – 1 in 940 births

Gastrointestinal Defects

  • Esophageal atresia – 1 in 4,608 births
  • Rectal and large intestinal atresia – 1 in 2,138 births

Musculoskeletal Defects

  • Reduction deformity, upper limbs – 1 in 2,869 births
  • Reduction deformity, lower limbs – 1 in 5,949 births
  • Gastroschisis – 1 in 2,229 births
  • Diaphragmatic hernia – 1 in 3,836 births

Chromosomal Anomalies

  • Trisomy 13 – 1 in 7,906 births
  • Trisomy 18 – 1 in 3,762 births
  • Down syndrome – 1 in 691 births

Common Causes of Birth Defects

While there are still too many children who are born with birth defects in which a cause cannot be determined with certainty, there are still many others that occur for a reason or reasons.  Some of the most common causes of birth defects include:

  • Smoking while pregnant
  • Consuming alcohol while pregnant
  • Using any other form of intoxicant while pregnant
  • Uncontrolled diabetes in the mother
  • Using certain prescription medications
  • Using certain over-the-counter medications
  • Improper medical care during the pregnancy

Unfortunately, there is no recourse for parents if a child is born with a birth defect that was caused by the risky behavior of the mother during pregnancy or because of some genetic problem.  However, when a mother is not cared for properly during pregnancy or she is prescribed medication that harms her child, those parents need to speak to birth injury lawyers as soon as possible.

Birth Defects Caused by Birth Injury

Perhaps the most avoidable birth defects are those that are inflicted during birth.  These situations are more commonly referred to as birth injuries, and there are common types of birth injuries that occur in the United States.  Examples of these common causes include:

  • Broken bones
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage
  • Brachial plexus injury
  • Oxygen deprivation
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Cephalohematoma

There are many others, but when medical professionals do not perform to their standards, these are some of the injuries that newborns can be forced to endure.

Preventing Birth Defects

There are steps that people can take to help minimize the chance that a child will suffer from birth defects.  The first steps usually involve those that are taken before someone even becomes pregnant.  Generally, someone who may get pregnant should live a relatively healthy lifestyle in terms of diet, exercise and avoiding intoxicants such as the overuse of alcohol, tobacco and other substances.  Additionally, many doctors will tell women who want to get pregnant to take a daily dose of folic acid as well.

Aside from avoiding the consumption of unhealthy foods, too much alcohol and the like, people who want to become pregnant should avoid exposure to toxic or harmful substances.  They should also work closely with their doctors so that they can discuss specific strategies that may be worthwhile.  This is also a time when would-be expecting mothers should discuss any potentially relevant family history, as some situations could raise the risk of birth defects in subsequent children.

How Birth Injury Lawyers Can Help

The birth injury lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys hope that the numbers relating to birth defects in the United States go down.  We also hope that National Birth Defects Prevention Month makes a positive difference in these statistics.  Unfortunately, there will never be a world without birth defects and birth injuries.  If your child was born with birth defects and you believe it was because of the faulty actions of medical professionals or the harm caused by medications, you need to seek help as soon as possible.  Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys immediately to schedule a free initial consultation.

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