Birth Defect Causes May Include Alcohol and Cigarettes

Birth defect causes vary, from alcohol to cigarettes to pharmaceutical medicines to illegal drugs, all of which can affect how a baby develops in the womb during pregnancy. Scientific studies have shown that exposure to dangerous chemicals, particularly during the first trimester, can significantly alter normal development and result in abnormal deformities in the heart, limbs, lungs, brain, and more. Following are a few more details on four of the major birth defect causes.

Birth Defect Cause 1: Alcohol

If alcohol is consumed during pregnancy, the fetus may develop adverse health conditions, typically referred to as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASDs). Of the FASDs, the most threatening to an unborn child is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) – the effects of which can cause mental and physical harm.

The exposure of a child to alcohol during fetal development can also lead to other health complications including the following:

  • Birth defects potentially affecting the heart, brain and other organs
  • Vision or hearing problems
  • Premature birth
  • Underweight at birth
  • Learning disabilities (including mental retardation)
  • Sleeping and sucking problems
  • Speech and language delays
  • Behavioral problems

Birth Defect Cause 2: Smoking

A child exposed to cigarette smoke during the fetal development stages is subject to nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar. Exposure to these chemicals can result in an insufficient amount of oxygen for the fetus, as well as cause damage to the fetal lungs.

Infants born to women who smoked during pregnancy may also experience the following after birth:

  • Cleft lip and palate
  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight

Birth Defect Cause #3: Illicit Drugs

Illegal street drugs including marijuana, methamphetamines, cocaine, and heroine are just a few substances that can lead to street drug birth defects. While in the womb, the fetus shares blood and nutrients with the mother, and so may be exposed to ingested drugs when the substances enter the placenta.

Some of the potential street drugs birth defects include the following:

  • Reduced oxygen supply to the baby
  • Restricted growth
  • Small head size
  • Drug dependency at birth
  • Difficulty feeding
  • Drug withdrawal symptoms
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tremors
  • Brain damage
  • Lack of muscle control
  • Learning disabilities

Birth Defect Cause #4: Prescription Medications

A child that is exposed to the chemicals in prescribed drugs may have a greater chance of being born with medicine birth defects. Depending on the situation, the medicine birth defects may range from mild to severe, and sometimes may require lifelong medical treatment. Potential medicine birth defects include:

Finding Legal Assistance with a Potential Birth Defect Case

If you have a child with one or more drug birth defects, you may be eligible for financial compensation to help pay for ongoing medical costs. Call Chaffin Luhana LLP at 1-888-480-1123 for a free review of your situation.