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Birth injury » Teratogens


Some birth injury claims will hinge on evidence concerning the way in which prenatal exposure to an agent in the bloodstream has interfered with the normal embryonic development of a child. Substances that have this effect are referred to as teratogens.

Perhaps the most familiar example of this is the thalidomide tragedy of the 1950s and 1960s, in which more than tens of thousands of children in Europe and Africa were born with birth defects caused by thalidomide. The drug had been a popular choice for doctors looking to prescribe pregnant women an apparently pregnancy-friendly anti-emetic to help combat morning sickness.

Thankfully, thalidomide is no longer prescribed for these purposes, but teratogenic agents continue to play a large part in birth injury claims, even as the obstetric and teratological sciences approach the second decade of the third millennium.

Birth defects occur at a rate of around of 3 to 5 of every 100 births. Although some may have a congenital element, around 65% occur without explanation. While it is known that 10% are caused by teratogenic agents, the true proportion of cases may be much higher.

There are many drugs available that have a teratogenic affect. For example, the acne drug Accutane can, even in a single dose, cause birth defects in newborns if the mother does not cease treatment months before conception.

Anti-insomnia drugs such as Temazepam and Nitrazepam are just two of the many prescription medicines that have a teratogenic effect. Fortunately, prescription regulations make it illegal for a doctor to prescribe women in pregnancy with any drug that carries a known threat.

Environmental pollutants also have proven causation. Birth defects evident in post-A-Bomb Japan may be among the most shocking examples of this, but dioxins, lithium and pesticides are just three of the many teratogens that exist in our more everyday environments.

Leading birth injury claim lawyers


If you believe that the negligence of a medical professional has led to your child suffering some form of injury, illness, or malformation, we can help your family receive the compensation appropriate to its circumstances.

Our select panel of solicitors has an excellent success rate, contains specialists who have membership of the Clinical Negligence Accreditation Scheme and is drawn exclusively from firms governed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

We uphold to explain all costs in advance and keep them to an absolute minimum - all are reimbursable in a won case.

If you would like to speak to an advisor, complete an onclaim form or simply call us on 01582 437070 for assistance and support.