What are birth defects?
It’s essential to understand that birth defects are common. According to the CDC, about one in every 33 babies in the United States is born with a birth defect each year. Birth defects are structural changes present at the baby’s birth. These changes, whether mild or severe, can affect any functions and physical features of the body.
Mild birth injuries do not require much treatment, but moderate to severe cases require frequent treatments, surgeries, and medications. Defects are more likely to happen within the first three months of the mother’s pregnancy (also known as the first trimester), but they can also happen later on in the pregnancy while the baby’s organs are developing.
Common Birth Defects
Each birth defect is different. Once your baby’s health is stabilized, your doctor will assess and diagnose their injuries. Some common examples of birth defects include cleft lips, congenital heart defects, hearing loss, and gastroschisis. Each defect will most likely require some form of surgery followed by a vast amount of treatments and therapies to recover fully. While not all birth defects are preventable, there are some risks parents can avoid to decrease their chances of having a baby with a birth defect.
While we do not know what exactly causes birth defects, we do know that some factors may increase the chances of your baby developing one. Here are some situations that can increase your baby’s risk of a birth defect:
- Certain health conditions: Pre-existing conditions and illnesses can increase your child’s risk of having a birth defect. Some diseases like diabetes can not only damage your own organs, but your child’s too.
- Smoking, drinking, doing drugs: One of the biggest factors that can affect your child’s health is the use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs while pregnant.
- Certain medications: Some medications can increase the risk of your baby having a defect. It’s important to meet with your doctor at the beginning of your pregnancy to go over medications you can and cannot use for the next nine months.
- Environmental factors: What most people don’t know is that your environment can have tremendous effects on your baby’s life. Some things in your environment like certain foods and exposure to toxic chemicals can alter your baby’s health for the rest of their life.
Once again, not all birth defects are preventable, but there are preventable measures you can take to ensure your baby’s health is being cared for. If you plan on having a baby, make sure to first have a preconception check-up. This type of check-up with your healthcare provider will determine whether your health is up-to-date and if you are able to have a baby.
Although we aren’t medical professionals, we do know that you should check in with your healthcare provider often, whether you have simple questions, or you feel as if your baby’s health could be potentially at risk.
How can birth defects affect my baby’s health?
As stated earlier, some birth defects are more severe than others. While mild birth defects may only cause short-term discomfort for your baby, others can cause physical, developmental, and intellectual issues for the rest of your child’s life. It’s essential to receive treatment as soon as possible as your baby’s condition has a better chance of improving over time. Preventative measures like avoiding hazardous environments and substances are also highly recommended to lessen your child’s chances of developing a defect.
How can a doctor detect a birth defect?
Luckily with modern technology, some birth defects can be detected as early as 15 weeks. Newborn health screening tests are given at birth to check for any serious health conditions. Certain states have laws requiring newborns to have these tests run by two weeks of age. Included in these tests are:
- Blood tests
- Heart screenings
- Hearing screenings
If something pops up under your doctor’s radar, they will most likely run a few more tests before diagnosing your baby or sending them off to a specialist. However, with early detection comes early treatment, which is a huge plus for your baby’s health. Speak with your healthcare provider soon if you suspect something is off with your child's health.
How are birth defects treated?
The care your child receives depends on their condition. Once your baby has been diagnosed, your health care provider will then decide if surgery, medication, therapy, or a combination of all three is your best course of action.
What if a doctor had a role in my child’s birth defect?
We understand that this is a challenging time for you and your family, which is why we’re here to give you options. If a doctor failed to diagnose you during your pregnancy, or your child at birth, you might be entitled to compensation. Our attorneys here at Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C. are experienced in birth injury lawsuits and can launch a full investigation into your child’s situation. We are able to help you recover compensation for things like:
- Medical bills
- Permanent disabilities
- In-home care
- Pain & suffering
A birth injury attorney can ensure your child has access to the best care possible. In Pennsylvania, a parent has up to two years from the discovery of the defect to file a birth injury lawsuit. While that may seem like a lot of time, birth injury cases are complex and can take months up to years to settle. Don’t hesitate to get your child the care they deserve. Call the Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C. attorneys today at (844) 383-0565 or visit our website to get started on your free consultation.