Increased Prevalence of Dangerous Birth Defect

CDC Cites Rising Occurrence of Gastroschisis, a Serious Congenital Defect

A recent news release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the prevalence of gastroschisis, a devastating birth defect, has risen dramatically over the last two decades. What is gastroschisis? According to the CDC, it is “a serious congenital defect in which the intestines protrude through an opening in the abdominal wall.” It requires surgery soon after an infant is born- yet even surgical repair cannot guarantee the health and safety of the newborn born with this defect. Indeed, gastroschisis is “associated with an increased risk for medical complications and mortality during infancy.”

The fact that this birth defect occurs is not what has surprised researchers and officials. Rather, what has been surprising is the rate at which the prevalence of gastroschisis has increased from 1995 to the present.

Between 1995 and 2005, rates of gastroschisis in newborn babies almost doubled. It is not just one segment of the population that is at risk. While this birth defect is linked to young maternal age, the CDC news release emphasized that its occurrence has risen for mothers in almost all age groups. While Hispanic mothers under the age of 20 appear to have seen the largest increase in gastroschisis (about a 263% rise), the increased prevalence is not explained by factors of age, race, or ethnicity alone.

Learning More About Birth Defects

How often, in general, do birth defects occur? According to a fact sheet from the CDC, the following facts and figures are important to better understand birth defect prevention tools:

  • Birth defects impact about one out of every 33 babies (or 3%) born in the U.S. every year;
  • Birth defects are currently the leading cause of death among infants (accounting for about 20% of all infant deaths);
  • Researchers estimate that folic acid fortification results in approximately 1,300 fewer infants born with birth defects each year; and
  • Survival for infants born with birth defects is poorest among non-Hispanic black and Hispanic mothers.

The CDC emphasizes that we need more research to figure out precisely why there are so many more cases of babies born with gastroschisis. What facts and figures do we know for certain?

  • Between 1995 and 2005, there were 4,369 incidents of gastroschisis out of 12,014,244 live births. To put that rate in other terms, its prevalence is 3.6 per 10,000 live births.
  • From 2006 to 2012, those rates increased. Between those years, there were 4,497 reported gastroschisis cases out of 9,264,540 live births. In other words, the prevalence rose to 4.9 per 10,000 live births.

If your baby was born with a birth defect, there are situations in which you may be able to seek financial compensation on behalf of your child. Contact an experienced birth defect attorney for a free consultation to learn more about your rights.

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