Legal Options For Families Who Suffered Medical Error During Pregnancy Or Delivery

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Many birth defects are preventable or detectable early in pregnancy.

January was National Birth Defect Awareness Month. The goal of the awareness campaign was to help expecting mothers take measures to prevent birth defects and provide support for parents who have a newborn facing immediate and lasting challenges.

Birth defects are a large problem in America. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect. That translates to a baby being born every four-and-a-half minutes with a birth defect, which is a structural change in one or more parts of the newborn’s body.

Some birth defects cannot be prevented, including many diseases and conditions with genetic causes. However, through proper medical care, many birth defects are avoidable. In addition, many birth defects are detectable very early in pregnancy, which if properly diagnosed and communicated to parents can allow the parents an informed choice on whether the pregnancy should continue. For example, blood tests can determine whether one or both parents are likely to pass on genes for Sickle Cell anemia, Tay Sachs, and Cystic Fibrosis even before conception. In addition, doctors must offer mothers a blood test screen as early as 16 weeks into a mother’s pregnancy to indicate risk for Down Syndrome. A second trimester ultrasound can detect birth defects in the brain and heart.

Unfortunately, miscommunication and medical errors increase the risk for birth defects and unforeseen complications. For example, a
recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that many doctors are prescribing potent painkillers to women of reproductive age, despite the increased risk of birth defects these drugs pose even a few weeks into pregnancy.

According to the study, released earlier this month, one-third of women between ages 15-65 on Medicaid were prescribed opioids, compared to one-quarter of women with private insurance. Women who take opioids during pregnancy increase the risk of carrying a baby to term with a brain injury, spinal cord defect, and damage to the baby’s abdominal wall.

Unfortunately, miscommunication and improper prescription practices are not the only type of medical negligence that can affect what should otherwise be one of the happiest moments in a person’s life. Oxygen deprivation, infant jaundice, and
trauma during labor can inflict various types of brain injury on newborns. And tragically, tens of thousands of neonatal deaths occur in the U.S. every year.

Medical malpractice lawsuits and birth defect lawsuits

Under New Jersey law, parents who were uninformed regarding a detectable birth defect may be able to obtain compensation to help with medical bills, special accommodations and other costs associated with the birth defect. New Jersey law recognizes the right to reproductive choice, including avoiding potential birth defects through in vitro fertilization and understanding early the medical conditions surrounding the pregnancy.

The Fronzuto Law Group has years of experience representing New Jersey parents faced with the emotional and tragic circumstances surrounding a birth defect caused by medical malpractice. New Jersey parents looking to understand their legal rights and options should contact the Fronzuto Law Group for a consultation.

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