When newborns are affected by various birth defects, an attorney may be the only option a family has to get compensation for costly ongoing medical treatments or surgeries. Unfortunately, about 70 percent of all birth defects are caused by an unknown factor, so there is still much research needed in the area. Of the remaining 30 percent, the complications are a result of genetic or environmental factors. There is little that can be done about genetic risks, and parents will rarely know exactly what genetic risks are present. The environment, though, is much easier to control and is the responsibility of both the parents and healthcare provider to maintain. This means appropriate advice, a careful review of prescribed medications, thorough imaging and a quick response to any troublesome diagnostics. In short, it’s the kind of expertise that parents should expect from their doctor, but doctors often fail to provide it.
WHEN SHOULD PARENTS CONSIDER SEEKING LAWYER ASSISTANCE FOR ANY BIRTH DEFECTS?
An experienced attorney who works with drug injury cases knows that there are many drugs that can cause fetal complications. Certain medications can interfere with how the child develops or create an unhealthy environment for the child to develop in, which is called teratogenic. There are dozens of drugs that are believed to be teratogenic, but it’s understandably difficult to perform research in this area, so it’s not always clear if a particular medication is dangerous. However, doctors are expected to err on the side of caution when handling a pregnant mother.
Sometimes, doctors are either not aware of a certain drug’s risks or do not perform an adequate medical screen when seeing patients. If the doctor does not realize that a woman is pregnant, they may prescribe a teratogen without noticing the danger.
Some of the riskiest drugs include ACE inhibitors, isotretinoin, some antidepressants, lithium, warfarin, male hormones, a few antibiotics (sulfonamides and nitrofurantoin) and several medications made for fighting cancer. If a pregnant woman is given these medications, there is a significant chance that the child will be born with birth defects. A drug injury attorney can review a patient’s medical records and determine right away if they have received any dangerous medications.
WHAT IF MY CHILD WAS HURT DURING DELIVERY?
Some complications are the result of poor delivery methods or poor imaging prior to delivery. Before the child is born, the doctor should know how the child is sitting in the uterus and verify that the child can be delivered safely through the birth canal. In some cases, it may be necessary to have the mother undergo a cesarean section to rescue the child. For example, if the child becomes tangled in the umbilical cord, it may cut off the baby’s oxygen and profoundly affect development. If a doctor is keeping a close eye on the child, such risks should be spotted before they become severe.
During delivery, the attending doctor must handle the child gently and provide the child with oxygen immediately. Although it’s rare, the doctor may exert too much force during delivery or neglect to provide oxygen right away. This can result in severe complications, including permanent palsy.
There’s nothing a parent wouldn’t give to make their child whole, but sadly, this isn’t always possible. However, with a lawyer’s help, parents can provide for their child medically and financially.