• Toxic Exposure Causes Birth Defects, Not Birth Injuries
  • October 23, 2015
  • Law Firm: Waters Kraus LLP - Dallas Office
  • One of the primary causes of birth defects in the United States is the parent’s exposure to toxic chemicals. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one baby in 33 will suffer from a birth defect. Some of the toxic substances that can cause birth defects include coal ash, pesticides used in the agricultural industry, and toxic chemicals used to manufacture conductor components.

    Birth Defects and Birth Injuries Have Entirely Different Causes

    In the news, the terms “birth defect” and “birth injury” are often confused. This is understandable given that the symptoms and injuries caused by birth defects and birth injuries are sometimes similar. But the two conditions have very different causes.

    Birth injuries occur in between 6 to 8 out of every 1000 births in America. These injuries are the result of a problem that develops during the birth process. Many, but not all, birth injuries are caused by the doctor’s negligence. Too much force may be used to pull the baby from the womb. Or the child may be deprived of oxygen because of the doctor’s failure to order a C-section in time. Some birth injuries heal fairly quickly while others result in permanent damage or a lifelong disability.

    By contrast, a birth defect is caused not during the birth process, but while the baby is still developing in the womb. The mother may contract an infection that results in a birth defect. Genetic abnormalities cause birth defects. Other birth defects result from the mother’s drinking or smoking during pregnancy.

    Many birth defects are completely preventable. These include birth defects caused by a parent’s unwitting exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace. In the electronics and high tech industries, for example, exposure to toxic chemicals can cause genetic damage to male and female workers. Workers involved in the manufacture of computer components, like silicon chips or video display equipment, often work in “clean rooms” where the air is constantly recirculated to protect the components from contamination. While the products are kept safe, workers are placed at risk as they are continuously exposed to air contaminated with toxic fumes.

    By inhaling these toxins or coming into contact with them on their skin, many workers develop genetic injuries. Parents unknowingly pass on damaged DNA to their children. This can result in a number of birth defects, including deformed or missing organs, abnormal or missing limbs, cognitive impairment, heart defects and blindness.
     
    Some birth defects are obvious immediately, while others may not be apparent for weeks or months. This is why it’s important for parents to know what to expect about their child’s developmental progress - especially if they become aware of toxic exposures that may have affected their child.