The clichéd image of new parents counting their newborn’s fingers and toes has survived all these years for a reason — the first thing parents want to know about their newborn at birth is that the child is healthy and complete. Not that long ago, birth defects, however awful, were assumed to be unforeseeable. Modern medicine has, in a great many cases, changed that perception.
Medical tests and imaging techniques now make many birth defects not only predictable, but sometimes able to be corrected while the fetus is still in utero. Because many of these methods can be undertaken during the first trimester of the pregnancy, couples may be given the choice of aborting a fetus that might otherwise be doomed to a short and/or miserable life. While not all birth defects are detectable in utero and there are many that cannot be corrected prenatally, science now gives us a measure of control that our ancestors could not have imagined.
Was your obstetrician at fault?
If your child has been born with a birth defect that could have, and should have, been diagnosed early in the pregnancy, of if your doctor failed to give you proper prenatal guidance or testing, you have a legal right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against your obstetrician. If this is the case, you need a highly capable medical malpractice attorney to help you win the substantial damages you and your baby deserve. Though your life and your child’s life will continue to be full of struggles, an experienced attorney may be able to win the substantial damages you are entitled to, damages that will help you pay for ongoing medical, therapeutic, nursing, and other types of specialized care for your offspring.
Types of Mistakes Your Doctor May Have Made
While modern science brings us many opportunities to combat birth defects, none of them matter unless our professional practitioners make use of them at every opportunity. Mistakes your doctor may make relative to birth defects include failure to:
- Take a comprehensive medical history of the mother
- Provide genetic counseling
- Order or administer prenatal testing
- Monitor the mother’s condition during pregnancy
- Conduct regular physical exams throughout the pregnancy
- Read and/or interpret diagnostic imaging tests accurately
- Be aware of laboratory errors and/or to order retesting
If your obstetrician has made any of the above mistakes, and his/her negligence has cost you and your family dearly, it is essential that you contact a trustworthy medical malpractice attorney with a track record of winning such cases.
Difference Between Birth Defects and Birth Injuries
It should be remembered that, in addition to the types of medical malpractice listed above obstetricians may also be sued for birth injuries, harm that occurs during the birthing process itself. The doctor’s failure to perform a Cesarean early enough to prevent the baby from being oxygen-deprived, or to use forceps delicately enough to avoid negatively impacting the infant, these, too, may be legitimate reasons for medical malpractice lawsuits.
Words from the Wise
There are some precautions all pregnant women should take to help ensure the health of their newborns and it is the job of their obstetricians to advise them (among other things) to: stop smoking, drinking alcohol, and changing the kitty litter and to make sure to take prenatal vitamins and folic acid supplements. Pregnant mothers should also stay away from toxic fumes of any kind. Parents with any risk of hereditary disease transmission should go for genetic counseling before they decide to become pregnant.
Foreseeable Birth Defects
Although some birth defects are not detectable before birth, many are. Birth defects that might have been noted early in the pregnancy by a more careful physician through maternal blood tests, amniocentesis, or ultrasound include:
- Heart defects
- Spina bifida
- Cystic fibrosis
- Tay Sachs disease
- Sickle cell anemia
- Down syndrome
- Cleft lip or cleft palate
- Kidney problems
- Brain abnormalities
- Missing limbs
The point of knowing whether your unborn child will have a birth defect is that this knowledge gives you options. Depending upon the severity of the defect, you may want to abort the fetus early on to save the unborn child and your family from a life of suffering. If the discovered defect can be corrected in utero, you may opt for that surgery. In other cases, you may have to prepare for your baby’s surgery shortly after birth. If your baby’s birth defect could have been prevented, foreseen or corrected had your obstetrician not been negligent, you will no doubt want to engage the services of a highly skilled medical malpractice attorney to handle your case.