A child born with birth defects will face many obstacles throughout their life, including medical and developmental hurdles. Of course, they are just as precious as healthy newborns, but it is still a tragedy when such complications are the result of preventable causes. There are many preventable risk factors that soon to be parents must pay attention to. Unfortunately, even when a mother takes all possible precautions, her developing newborn can still be hurt by the negligence of others.


The truth is, there are many complications and conditions that researchers aren’t sure about. What is known is that a range of factors may be involved when a newborn is born with complications – some of them preventable, and some of them not.

For example, there are many conditions caused by genetic factors, though it’s not always clear just how much of an impact genetics have in some cases. For example, about 15 percent of congenital heart complications, which are the most common and usually the most deadly, are believed to have a genetic association. These genetic associations can result from multiple gene abnormalities, such as those that cause Down’s Syndrome and Turner’s Syndrome, or from single gene abnormalities, such as those that cause Marfan Syndrome.

However, even when genetics are believed to play a part, environmental factors can exacerbate genetic vulnerabilities
. And sometimes, environmental factors are the primary element involved. Some of these environmental risk factors include:

  • Alcohol or drug use – both are linked to a long list of complications, including fetal alcohol syndrome and hepatitis C.
  • Exposure to a bacterial or viral infection – an acute infection, such as one caused by rubella, can pass to the developing fetus and result in severe complications. This is why women are encouraged to be up to date on their vaccines prior to becoming pregnant. In general, complications caused by infections are most common during the first three months of pregnancy.
  • Exposure to harmful medications or medical treatments – unfortunately, pregnant women are often given prescription medications that are harmful to their developing baby, and this constitutes negligence on the doctor’s behalf.
  • Injury to the newborn during delivery – during delivery, doctors and hospitals are required to follow detailed procedures to ensure the newborn is delivered safely. For example, as soon as the baby is born, doctors must ensure that the baby’s air passage is cleared so they can breathe properly. Even a delay that lasts seconds can cause lasting complications.


There are many prescription drugs that can greatly increase the chances of newborn complications. Some of them include:

  • Accutane
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) medications like Lexapro, Zoloft and Prozac
  • Some antibiotics, such as sulfonamides and tetracyclines
  • Clomid
  • Zofran
  • Some anti-seizure drugs, like Topamax

Doctors must also be careful when exposing pregnant mothers to X-rays, as the resulting radiation damage can produce profound complications.

When a newborn is affected by severe complications, it’s natural for the family to want answers. An injury attorney can help a family get those answers, and pursue compensation if negligence is responsible.