The month of January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. Each year, a theme is chosen in support of preventing birth defects in the United States. 2019’s theme is called “Best for You. Best for Baby.” Although a myriad of birth defects are not preventable, there are some ways that mothers can reduce the likelihood of having a baby with a birth defect.
Additionally, doctors are responsible for prenatal screening to identify a variety of birth defects, and must provide parents with the information they need to make pregnancy-related decisions. Beyond early diagnosis and detection of birth defects, inadequate prenatal care may contribute to you having an unhealthy baby. When a doctor’s negligence during pregnancy, labor or delivery causes complications for your child, you may have options to pursue a medical malpractice claim.
If you suspect that your baby suffered harm resulting from a medical professional’s negligent conduct, the experienced New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers at Fronzuto Law Group are here to fight for you. Our team will review medical records and the specific circumstances surrounding your case to identify who is at fault for your baby’s injuries. If a doctor failed to diagnose your child’s birth defect, we have the knowledge and experience to determine liability and pursue your claim. Contact our local offices in NJ for a free consultation.
What is a Birth Defect?
A birth defect is a medical condition that a baby develops while still in the mother’s womb. The majority of birth defects develop during the first trimester (the initial three months of pregnancy). In the U.S., birth defects are responsible for killing more babies that anything else, causing 20% of infant mortalities. In fact, birth defects are consistently the leading cause of infant deaths in New Jersey and across the nation. When a child is born with a birth defects, his or her propensity for lifelong disability significantly increases.
Some birth defects can be diagnosed during pregnancy with thorough prenatal testing. For example, genetic anomalies indicate conditions like Down Syndrome. Other birth defects, such as structural problems with the heart or lungs, are found after birth when complications arise. The specific type of birth defect determines the area of the body affected, such as the brain, ears, or feet. The severity and long-term impact of a birth defect is equally variable. While some birth defects require corrective surgery, such as a cleft lip or heart valve deformity, others are incurable. In the worst cases, a birth defect can cause death of a newborn.
Can Birth Defects be Prevented?
Some genetic factors and other factors outside of your control can influence the development of birth defects. However, there are numerous risk factors that increase the chances of having a baby born with a birth defect. Some of the known risk factors for birth defects include:
- Drinking alcohol while pregnant
- Smoking during pregnancy
- Taking illegal drugs during pregnancy
- A mother who is overweight or obese
- Gestational diabetes
- Certain prescription medications taken while pregnant
- Family history of birth defects
- Advanced maternal age (mother who is 34 or older)
- Undiagnosed or untreated maternal infection
What Can I do to Prevent Birth Defects during Pregnancy?
Some of the things you can do to support a healthy pregnancy for your baby and yourself are:
- Get a sufficient amount of sleep and rest
- Moderately exercise
- Stick to a balanced diet
- Take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily prior to before and during pregnancy
- Stay away from harmful chemicals at home, at your job, and in your food
- Abstain from drinking alcohol, smoking, or taking illegal controlled substances
- Speak with your doctor about any medications you are currently prescribed
Your healthcare provider is also responsible for providing proper care throughout your pregnancy to support a healthy baby. Prenatal testing, medical guidance, diagnosis and management of conditions like preeclampsia, and timely treatment for any infections or illnesses that arise while you are pregnant is essential. If your doctor failed to provide this level of care and your baby suffered harm as a result, it is important to seek counsel from a knowledgeable attorney.
Birth Defect Lawyers in NJ can Help
If your child was born with a birth defect and you believe medical negligence played a role, call the experienced New Jersey birth defect attorneys at Fronzuto Law Group to find out your legal options. You can reach us online or by phone at 973-435-4551 for a free case evaluation. The consultation is free and so are our services unless we obtain you a recovery.
Related Birth Defect Information & Resources:
- What is Wrongful Birth?
- Preconception Health, CDC
- Folic Acid for Spina Bifida Prevention in the U.S., American Journal of Preventive Medicine
- National Birth Defects Prevention Month, NBDPN