Congenital anomalies are the fourth leading cause of infant death across the globe. They account for approximately 295,000 infant deaths within 28 days of birth each year. If your family experienced the loss of a newborn due to an undetected congenital anomaly, you might wonder what, if anything, you can do about it.
According to the World Health Organization, congenital anomalies can result from one or more infectious, environmental, nutritional and genetic factors and are not always preventable. However, pediatric teams can prevent devastating outcomes in some — but not all — instances with early detection.
Detecting congenital anomalies
As a parent who lost a child to a congenital anomaly, you may wonder what life would have been like had your doctor detected the abnormality during your pregnancy. Would early detection have prevented the heartbreak? While you cannot undo your loss, you can determine whether your OB/GYN followed proper screening protocol immediately before and after conception and throughout your pregnancy.
Immediately before and after conceiving your child, your OB should have conducted a thorough screening that included an assessment of your age and risk factors, such as the use of tobacco, alcohol and other substances. They also should have run several diagnostic tests to screen for placental markers that indicated neural tube defects, chromosomal abnormalities or infection.
Throughout your pregnancy, your doctor should have routinely screened for blood disorders, hormone production and metabolism. They also should have screened for fetal defects, as early detection would have triggered the facilitation of life-saving treatments.
Post-birth treatment and care
When a baby is born with a congenital anomaly, the pediatric team has a duty to act quickly to administer appropriate treatment. Pediatric teams can correct structural anomalies and functional problems with surgery and other forms of care. Early treatment of congenital anomalies helps to prevent the progression toward visual, intellectual and auditory disabilities.
There is no telling whether early detection would have saved your baby. However, if your doctor did not follow proper protocol, you may be able to hold them legally accountable for your loss. An experienced attorney can help you explore your options.