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One in 33 New Jersey Babies Has a Serious Birth Defect

According to a report by the National Birth Defects Prevention Network, one out of 33 babies in New Jersey is born with a major birth defect. Birth defects cause one out of five deaths among babies under a year old.

New Jersey's Birth Defect Surveillance System is the oldest such program in the US. New Jersey law requires the reporting of children diagnosed with birth defects to the New Jersey Special Child Health Services (SCHS) Registry, which has registered children since 1928. The Registry's confidential records allow researchers to see "clusters" of birth defects that may be due to environmental factors (such as pollution), and help the state plan for and provide services to children with birth defects and their families.

The causes of 70% of birth defects are unknown. However, it is known that drinking alcohol and smoking while pregnant can cause low birth weight, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and other birth defects. Women who are planning to become pregnant should take a daily dose of 400 micrograms of folic acid (contained in many brands of prenatal vitamins) to prevent serious defects of a baby's nervous system.

Some birth defects cannot be prevented or detected before birth, but others may give rise to claims for medical malpractice.

Some defects are caused by trauma during the birth process, such as oxygen deprivation due to the umbilical cord being wrapped around the baby's neck.

Many defects and diseases can be detected early in pregnancy, or even predicted before the baby is conceived, based on the parents' genetic profiles.

New Jersey law provides a cause of action for "wrongful birth" as a result of medical negligence in failing to diagnose a fetus's serious risk of disease or disability. New Jersey requires doctors to advise patients about the range of prenatal screening tests available, and to explain the risks of having a disabled child. This information allows parents to make an informed decision about whether to start or terminate a pregnancy.

If you or a family member have a child with a birth defect and believe medical malpractice may be involved, contact a New Jersey birth defect attorney at the Law Offices of Greenberg, Walden & Grossman, LLC. 

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