According to the Florida Birth Defects Registry, a baby is born with a birth defect every 4.5 minutes. The Registry has been recording data on birth defects in the state of Florida since 1999. It cautions that not every birth defect can be prevented.
While birth defects have many potential causes, one of the most common reason birth defects occur is due to environmental injury. Environmental injury is a broad term used to describe any exposure to toxins or harmful substances in the environment.
Both air and water pollution are common sources of environmental injury, but harmful exposure to drugs and many other toxins can also result in damage which is classified as environmental injury. For example, Dilantin, an epilepsy medication, has been linked to a 10 percent risk of Fetal Hydantoin Syndrome when the medication is used during the first trimester. This drug, and any substances which results in an increased risk of birth defects if a woman is exposed during pregnancy, are called teratogens.
When environmental injury occurs and affects a fetus, identifying the teratogen and tracing the source of exposure may be of paramount importance both to stop the harmful exposure from causing further harm and to allow compensation for victims affected. Severe birth defects due to environmental exposure to toxins or chemicals can result in costly and expensive treatment required over the course of a child’s life. Premature death is also a possible outcome of environmental injury. Parents and children born with defects due to environmental exposure deserve compensation for losses.
Cases involving birth defects resulting from environmental injury can be complicated due to the difficulty of conclusively linking the teratogen to the defects.