Virtually all families who have a child develop a birth defect immediately ask the simple question: Why? Each Chicago birth injury lawyer at our firm, having worked on many cases of this sort, knows that the answers are never easy to give. Medical practitioners usually do their best to explain how a defect can arise, but in certain instances knowledge about the problem remains sparse. The fact is there is still much we do not know about exactly why certain problems arise over the course of a pregnancy and what can been done to prevent those problems.
Yet that is not to say that prevention is always impossible for birth defects. On the contrary, medical researchers have made amazing progress over the years in their efforts to slowly piece together the mysteries of the child development process-uncovering important information along the way about how to give the fetus the best chance possible of developing without a defect or birth injury. One point that is universally agreed upon is that proper prenatal care is critical in increasing the chance of giving birth to a full-term healthy infant.
One important issue is that many birth defects happen at the very beginning of a pregnancy. This presents a challenge, because it is means that the problems may arise even before a woman knows that she is pregnant at all. Because of that, pregnancy planning is often thought of as one of the best ways to prevent birth defects. Knowing that a pregnancy is coming can allow a woman to being taking certain vitamins that are beneficial in the development. Similarly, soon-to-be mothers can begin avoiding drugs or medications that may be harmful to the child. Many children have suffered debilitating (or even fatal) birth injuries simply because the mother ingested some substances in the first few weeks of the pregnancy without knowing that she was with child.
Beyond that, experts in this area report that there are a few basic steps that all women can take to help prevent defects:
1. Use Folic Acid: This vitamin supplement is beneficial for all women of reproductive age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that taking 400 micrograms of folic acid every day is critical for pregnant women. A lack of folic acid has been linked to spina bifida (a congenital spine defect) as well as anencephaly (an absence of parts of the brain or skill).
2. Avoid alcohol: While some have suggested that a glass of wine a night or week might be acceptable, most still believe that there is no reason for a woman to do so while pregnant (or expecting pregnancy).
3. Don’t smoke: Obviously smoking is bad for both the mother and developing child. Specific risks include premature birth, cleft lip, and cleft palate. In fact, even secondhand smoke can affect a child, and so air quality should always be a concern for expectant mothers.
4. Consult Doctors About Medications: Over the counter drugs like Motrin or Ibuprofen can have serious negative consequences for a child, often causing miscarriages or heart defects. This also goes for those who are trying to conceive a child, as even small amounts in the earliest stages of the pregnancy can cause damage
5. Control diabetes: Repeatedly unstable blood sugar levels during pregnancy can have a wide range of complications for the child, including shortened limbs. It is important to keep it under control.
The Chicago birth injury attorneys at our firm encourage all mothers to practice good prenatal care. Ask your physician if at any time you have questions about how something may affect a child’s development.
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