October 15, 2011

Birth Defects Linked to Various Persistent Organic Pollutants

by Levin & Perconti

Late this week the Environmental Health News reported on new information about the effect that certain pollutants and the chemicals inside them have on pregnant woman. Of particular interest to an Illinois childbirth accident attorney, the article explained how the exposure to those pollutants increased the risk of a child suffering from neural tube defects. The particular chemicals involved in the study are known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) which include various pesticides, industrial chemicals, and compounds released from fossil fuels. The research was the first to actually link the total number of POPs in placentas to the defects.

The study involved the examination of 80 different cases of fetuses with neural tube defects and 50 cases of healthy controls. The pollutants were then measured in the area where the mother lived. Those areas with the higher levels of pollutant chemicals were then found to lead to the increased problems. Those areas with the most problems were closest to mining and burning coal operations. The scientists also measured various chemical levels inside the placenta to get an idea of fetal exposure to those pollutants.

The birth injury at issue in this research—neural tube defects—affect the development of the brain and the spinal cord. The neural tube is the temporary part of the developing fetus that actually splits into both the brain and spinal cord during the growth process. When that neural tube fails to seal, then anencephaly and spina bifidia can arise. These defects generally result in lifelong problems for the children who suffer from them. In addition, these problems could result in spontaneous abortions and stillbirths. Worldwide more than 300,000 babies are born with these defects every year. In the United States the rate is about 30 for every 1,000 live childbirths.

Illinois birth defects have causes that range from medical malpractice and unsafe pollutants to completely random developmental problems that cannot be prevented. Medical professionals continue to uncover new information that sheds light on the exact causes of birth problems. Therefore many causes that at one time seem to be completely accidental become preventable so long as proper steps are taking. Our Chicago birth defect lawyers know that as medical knowledge grows the rules of legal liability related to Illinois birth injury lawsuits change.

This is the case because in many ways the law accounts for the awareness of those who played a role in causing these injuries. In certain context—such as product liability cases—the knowledge of the involved defendant may be irrelevant. However, in many other cases, negligence requires at least some awareness of one’s conduct. When it comes to birth defects, there could be both products liability and regular negligence aspects to a potential legal case related to those injuries. Very frequently in these cases an attorney will explain to a client that there all possible avenues for recovery should be pursued. The law is rarely a simple and straightforward process, as a variety of potential causes of actions or theories of liability may exist in any given situation.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

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