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An overview of birth defects in Louisiana

Every year about 120,000 babies with birth defects are born in the United States. In Louisiana, the rate of birth defects ranges between 2 and 3 percent according to statistics from the state's Department of Health and Hospitals showing that more than 1600 live births reported a birth defect out of more than 63,000 births in 2006.

Birth defects constitute a significant financial, emotional, and social cost not only to families but to the state as a whole. Aside from being a leading cause of infant death, almost one-third of all pediatric hospital visits are related to birth defects, and the repercussions, such as requirements for long-term care, can last far into the adult life of the victim.

There are many causes of birth defects, and it is common for these defects to have multiple causes in any given case. Sometimes the origins of a birth defect are out of the control of the mother or anyone else as in cases of individual or family-related genetic conditions or an accidental injury to the mother or the fetus during pregnancy. At other times, the mother may make questionable choices, such as smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol or using certain kinds of illegal drugs during her pregnancy, that increase the risk of birth defects.

There can be a third cause of birth defects that has nothing to do with genetics or poor choices. Prescription medications that the mother takes on the advice of a physician that prove to have unanticipated side effects or injuries inflicted on the mother during pregnancy may contribute to causing birth defects.

The law may recognize a cause of action on behalf of the mother and child against responsible third parties, such as drug manufacturers, physicians and hospitals, and others who caused physical harm, intentional or otherwise, to the mother or fetus.

Because birth defects are frequently traceable to multiple causes, identifying them and their respective contributions can require extensive use of investigatory resources such as medical experts, examinations and tests. Particularly in circumstances where third party responsibility is believed to be a contributing cause, retaining a personal injury law firm can be an important early step to take.

Personal injury attorneys have the knowledge and experience to help identify and prioritize those causes which may be subject to claims for compensation.

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