November 12, 2011

The Safest Birth Defect Screenings May Be Maternal Blood Test

by Levin & Perconti

In most individual cases, the civil justice system can only react to problems that come up, and it rarely is used to prevent specific harms. Our Chicago birth defect lawyers work with clients who have already suffered harm and are simply using the legal system to hold wrongdoers accountable and seek redress so that their child will have access to the resources they need to live as well as possible in spite of their situation. Of course, an underlying theme in these cases is also a hope that the accountability will encourage others in the same situation to ensure that proper care is provided at all times to prevent the problem.

At the end of the day, all families whose new child suffered a birth defect because of medical negligence would give back their entire legal award if only they were able to go back in time and prevent the harm. Prevention forever remains the main goal of birth injury advocacy efforts. That is why our Chicago injury lawyers closely follow medical development related to testing and other prevention issues which can identify problems well before they arise.

For example, the USA Today reported this week that a team of scientists has recently conducted research for the first time which used a noninvasive blood test to screen for a rare fetal abnormality. Specifically, the researchers were looking for a chromosomal irregularity called “fetal microdeletion syndrome.” The researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center claim that they were able to detect the irregularity in the unborn child via a DNA analysis on a blood sample from the prospective mother.

This is an important step, because currently mothers who suspect that their child may have the irregularity are forced to undergo a much more invasive diagnostic technique, like amniocentesis. Besides being much less desirable for comfort reasons for the mother, these more invasive tests also present a risk to the health of the fetus. Therefore, this potential new option has multiple benefits. One involved researcher summarized the development by noting that “the most compelling point is that we have been able to illustrate a proof of concept. We have shown that you can identify these sorts of abnormalities without having to collect a physical sample from the baby or the placenta.”

Researchers continue to work on similar studies in relation to other developmental birth defects. For example, maternal blood tests are also being developed to identify potential fetal abnormalities like Down’s syndrome and spina bifida. All told, according to the March of Dimes, roughly one out of every one hundred and fifty children are born with some chromosomal abnormality. They can develop during sperm or egg growth and both before and after conception. In many cases these problems result in significant mental and physical defects for the child. Right now the invasive amniocentesis is the only way to test for these situations. Yet if the blood test is proven as accurate, then it will undoubtedly become much more common as it is noninvasive, cheaper, and less risky.

In Other News: Two of our companion blogs--The Illinois Medical Malpractice Blog and Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog--were nominated for inclusion as one of the Top 25 Tort Blogs of 2011. The award is part of the LexisNexis project which seeks to feature blogs that set the standard in certain practice areas and industries. The voting to narrow down the field is currently underway, and we would love to have your vote. All you have to do is add a comment at the end of the post about the Top 25 bogs.

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See Our Related Blog Posts:

Understanding Cerebral Palsy

Birth Injuries Often Have Lifelong Consequences