January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month.
Each year, a theme is assigned to this awareness month to help bring awareness to caregivers, expectant parents, and family members about the causes and prevention of devastating congenital disabilities.
For 2018, the theme will be “Prevent to Protect: Prevent Infections for Baby’s Protection.”
While not every birth defect can be detected or prevented, a vast majority of those that occur in the United States could have been prevented. One way to avoid congenital disabilities is monitoring potential infections in mother and baby and treating them quickly.
Therefore, this year’s theme focuses on the importance of diagnosing and treating infections during pregnancy to help reduce the number of babies born with defects in the U.S.
How Common Are Birth Defects in Louisville and the Rest of the Country?
Birth defects are widespread despite the United States having access to modern medicine and hospital facilities. In fact, every 4.5 minutes in the U.S. a baby is born with a defect and more than 120,000 infants are affected by these defects per year.
Right now, the estimates are one out of 33 infants will be born with a defect. These defects include structural changes to the infant that can affect multiple areas of the body, including the organs, brain, bones, and face.
Defects can affect a baby’s appearance, growth, and development. Defects range from mild to severe – and some defects can be fatal.
Facts to Know about Birth Defects
To help spread awareness, learn about the statistics and facts for congenital disabilities. If you are a parent with an infant born with a preventable defect, you may have a medical malpractice claim against the physician treating you. To explore your options, speak with a malpractice attorney.
A Common Cause of Birth Defects Is Lack of Folic Acid
Women who plan to become pregnant or are pregnant need folic acid and should start taking it as soon as possible.
A daily vitamin with folic acid ensures that the baby’s brain and spine develop correctly during the first few months of pregnancy.
Some Defects Are More Common than Others
There are thousands of different types of defects, but some are more common than others including:
- Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) – /CHD is abnormalities in the heart’s structure and occurs in 1 out of every 2,500 live births.
- Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) –/ CDH is a hole in the diaphragm that allows organs in the abdomen to push through and restrict an infant’s lung development. It occurs in 1 out of 2,500 live births.
- Spina Bifida –/ Spina bifida occurs when a section of the spine does not develop properly. Portions of the spinal column and nerves are then exposed. It happens in 3.4 out of 10,000 births; and it is estimated that 1,400 to 1,500 babies are born with this defect each year in the United States.
- Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) –/ This occurs when identical twins share a placenta and blood. It happens in 15 percent of multiple pregnancies.
- Lower Urinary Tract Obstructions –/ Occurs when a partial or complete obstruction of the urethra occurs and restricts urine passage. It happens in one out of every 5,000 to 7,000 births in the U.S. and is more common in males than females.
Not All Defects Are Found at Birth
Sadly, many parents do not realize their newborn has a defect until after their baby is home and they have had time alone with their baby. There are also defects that do not show until the baby starts to grow and develop.
Some Defects Can be Diagnosed During Pregnancy
Some defects can be detected during pregnancy, such as Down’s Syndrome and Spina Bifida. Both are detectable through prenatal tests, like bloodwork, amino tests, and routine ultrasounds.
A Variety of Factors Cause Birth Defects
A birth defect can occur during any stage of a pregnancy – and not all are genetic. However, most defects arise during the critical development stages, which are the first three months of pregnancy. Certain defects occur during the last six months, especially as tissues and organs finish developing.
Common causes of congenital disabilities include:
- Smoking, consuming alcohol, or using recreational drugs during pregnancy
- Having medical conditions during pregnancy that are untreated or poorly monitored
- Taking over-the-counter and prescription medications while pregnant
- Genetic or hereditary, such as a family member with the same defect
- Being over the age of 34 and pregnant
- Severe illness or infection during pregnancy
- External trauma during pregnancy
Birth Defects Are Costly for Families
Congenital disabilities are incredibly costly for loved ones. In fact, in the U.S. defects account for over 139,000 hospital stays in a one-year span and cost $2.6 billion in hospitalization costs per year.
Families, insurance companies, and government programs all share the burden of these costs. One cost many families do not anticipate is the time off work, personal sacrifices, and the emotional impact these birth defects will have on their family.
When Are Birth Defects an Issue of Malpractice – What Are Your Options?
Sadly, a vast majority of defects in the United States are preventable and result from inadequate care, improper treatments during pregnancy, or medical negligence. When physicians fail to order laboratory tests, treat infections quickly, and diagnose defects, parents and babies suffer.
If you have a child born with a preventable birth defect, you have the right to hold physicians responsible.
To explore your options for compensation, you need a malpractice attorney to review your case.
Speak with attorney Seth Gladstein at the Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Schedule yours today at 502-791-9000 or request more information online.