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Can You Sue for a Birth Defect?


Welcoming a new child into the family should be a joyous time. Unfortunately, birth injuries can occur and when they do, they are devastating. When doctors and other medical professionals are negligent and do not provide the proper care for newborns, it can have catastrophic results. Not only might the child be harmed, but the parents, siblings, grandparents, and others may also suffer losses.

Injuries at birth are sometimes known as birth defects, and they differ from other types of birth injuries. Whether or not you can file a lawsuit for a birth defect largely depends on the specific facts of your case. Below, our Knoxville medical malpractice attorney explains further.

Defining Birth Defects 

Birth defects are anomalies or disorders that affect a child’s development in the womb. They can affect a child’s physical or cognitive functions, or a baby’s appearance or internal processes. The most common types of birth defects are as follows:

  • Down syndrome
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Spina bifida
  • Cleft lift and cleft palate
  • Hemangiomas
  • Clubfoot
  • Malformation of limbs
  • Partial or complete blockage of the bowel or esophagus
  • Diaphragmatic or abdominal hernia
  • Brain defects

Birth defects are sometimes genetic, meaning they happen due to mutations in the child’s genes. However, maternal health issues can also result in a birth defect, as can exposure to certain toxins. For example, if a mother had diabetes that was not treated properly, or the mother developed an infection during pregnancy, these can result in a birth defect. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 out of 33 babies will suffer from some type of birth defect, accounting for three percent of all babies born in the United States.

Can You Sue for a Birth Defect? 

Doctors have many duties when treating pregnant women. They must make sure they are prescribing medications that are safe for both the child and the mother. They must assess a pregnant woman’s overall health and advise her of any risks to the unborn child. If a doctor does not perform these duties properly, they can be sued for medical negligence.

Birth defects are not always preventable, but there are times when they are. Doctors must provide proper prenatal care to ensure children are born safely and without birth defects. For example, pregnant women should take folic acid to prevent spina bifida. If a doctor did not advise of this and a child was born with the condition, the physician could be held liable.

Our Medical Malpractice Attorney in Knoxville Can Advise on Your Case 

Birth defects are not always grounds to file a lawsuit, but there are times when they are. These cases require a thorough medical and legal knowledge to determine if negligence was involved and if there is a valid basis for a lawsuit. At Atkins Brezina, PLLC, our Knoxville medical malpractice attorney practices with an MD/JD who can provide that knowledge so you have the best chance of success with your case. Call us now at 865-500-3121 or contact us online to request a free consultation and to get more information.




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