A birth defect is when a baby is born with a physical, mental, structural or biochemical abnormality. Birth defects can be caused for a variety of reasons, including the mother’s exposure to certain chemicals, genetic reasons, or hormonal reasons. However, a very serious and little known reason for birth defects can be the medication a woman takes during her pregnancy. Many women are unaware that simple over-the-counter and prescription drugs can affect their baby’s development. Read on for more information about birth defects in the USA.
Birth Defects in the USA
Unfortunately, birth defects remain the number one reason for the death of newborn babies in the USA. In 2006, 5,819 babies died because of complications from birth defects. Being born premature was the second most common cause of death, with 4,841 babies dying from complications of being born premature in 2006. The third most common reason for newborn death in 2006 was SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, which claimed 2,323 lives.
It has been estimated that 150,000 babies are born with birth defects in the USA each year. In fact, 3 percent of all babies born each year will suffer from some kind of birth defect.
Reasons for Birth Defects
There are a variety of reasons for birth defects. Surprisingly, the reason for birth defects cannot be categorized and understood neatly with the help of statistics. It is known that some birth defects are caused by genetics and inheritance, including chromosomal abnormalities (such as Down’s Syndrome), single gene defects (such as Tay-Sachs) and multifactorial influences, which is where genetics and environmental factors are combined to result in a birth defect. Additionally, some birth defects result just from environmental factors, and some result from medication taken by the mother during pregnancy.
However, the reason for 50 percent of birth defects are unknown. With so many factors at play, it is difficult for doctors to pin down exactly why a baby was born with a birth defect and as a result, there are no hard statistics to demonstrate which factors result in more birth defects than others.
Birth Defects and Medication
A birth defect that results from medication taken by the mother during her pregnancy is known as a teratogen. Teratogens can affect the fetus directly, they can damage the umbilical cord or the placenta, or they can even result in premature uterine contractions. Again, the effect of different teratogens cannot be summed up by statistics.
Different medications that are known to harm unborn babies include certain antibiotics, tranquilizers like anti-anxiety medication or anti-depressants, live vaccinations, sex hormones and anti-seizure medication. Skin medication such as Accutane and Soriatane are also known to be extremely harmful, and aren’t even recommended during the conception phase.
However, 2 out of 3 mothers will take some kind of medication during the course of their pregnancy. Women with epilepsy or other chronic illnesses clearly cannot avoid medication, as it will jeopardize their health and the baby’s health. Always see a doctor before going on new medication if you are already pregnant, and consult a doctor if you are currently on medication and trying to get pregnant.
If your child was born with a birth defect and you believe that it was a result of medication, consult a legal professional to see if you have a claim. Gemma Law Associates, Inc. is a dangerous drug and birth defect law firm located in Rhode Island. For more information about drugs that can cause birth defects if taken during pregnancy, visit the website at www.GemmaLaw.com