Prenatal testing has now advanced to the point that many birth defects can be detected early enough in the pregnancy to give parents the option of terminating the pregnancy. When requisite prenatal testing is not recommended or is not administered or interpreted properly, however, parents may be destined to carry to term a fetus with a high risk of infant mortality, restrictive disabilities, and multiple long-term medical problems. If you find yourself facing the challenges and pain that accompany raising a child born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) and there was negligence involving a failure to diagnose the condition prenatally, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your obstetrician, radiologist, ultrasound technician, or healthcare facility for “wrongful birth.”
As disturbing the phrase “wrongful birth” may be, a successful lawsuit for wrongful birth will provide you with the substantial financial support you need to make your life and the life of your child more manageable and more comfortable. If you live in New Jersey, contacting Nagel Rice LLP may be the smartest move you ever make. We are a team of dedicated medical malpractice attorneys with a track record of winning millions of dollars for clients in your situation. Call us soon for a free consultation to see if you have a winnable case regarding HLHS. Remember: we will not charge you any attorneys’ fees until we win you the compensation you deserve.
What is hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS)?
HLHS is a birth defect that negatively impacts normal blood flow through the heart. As the name indicates, during pregnancy the left side of the heart doesn’t develop properly. Infants born with this condition will die unless they have surgery soon after birth so HLHS is considered a critical heart defect (CHD).
HLHS keeps several parts of the heart from developing as they should, including: the left ventricle (the major pumping chamber of the heart), the mitral valve, and the aorta. In addition, babies with hypoplastic left heart syndrome also have an atrial septal defect (i.e. a hole between the left and right upper chambers of the heart). All of these defects mean that the baby’s heart will not be sending oxygen-rich blood throughout the party as it’s supposed to.
Causes and Risk Factors of HLHS
For the most part, the causes of heart birth defects are unknown except in some cases in which they can be tied to genetic changes or to some environmental factor that affected the mother during gestation, such as substances in food, drinks, or medications she took during pregnancy. For unknown reasons, mothers are at greater risk of having a child with HLHS if they are:
- Over the age of 30
- Have type 1 or 2 diabetes
- Have someone in their family with a critical heart defect
- Are carrying more than one baby
Whether you are at elevated risk of having a baby with HLHS or not, your obstetrician is responsible for having you go through all necessary prenatal screening and testing and following up on any irregular results. If your doctor, lab technician, radiologist, or healthcare facility has failed to provide you with proper care, and you have given birth to an infant with HLHS as a result, Nagel Rice wrongful birth attorneys will help you hold those responsible for your ongoing hardship accountable and see to it that you receive the damages you deserve.
Prenatal Tests for HLHS
During pregnancy, it is possible to screen for birth defects, and, if screening indicates a possibility of serious abnormality, perform prenatal testing. Hypoplastic left heart syndrome can be diagnosed during pregnancy with an ultrasound which uses sound waves to create images of the fetus’s body. If the ultrasound makes technicians and/or doctors, suspicious that the fetus may have HLHS, a fetal echocardiogram should be scheduled to confirm or disprove the diagnosis. The echocardiogram provides details not only about the structure of the heart but about how well the heart is functioning with this defect. This test can show problems with the structure of the heart and how well the heart is functioning in spite of this defect.
Symptoms of Babies Born with HLHS
Although newborns with hypoplastic left heart syndrome may seem fine for a few days after birth, they will quickly develop characteristics of the disorder, including:
- Breathing problems
- Weak pulse
- Pounding heart
- Bluish skin tone
- Heart murmur
- Low levels of oxygen in the blood
Life is extremely challenging for babies born with HLHS and their parents. An infant with this disorder will likely need medications to lower blood pressure, strengthen the heart muscle, and help rid the body of excess fluid. Such an infant may also tire while feeding and so fail to take in sufficient nourishment — may even have to be fed through a feeding tube. Most significant, a baby with HLHS will have to undergo multiple surgeries to increase blood flow through the body, though even after these surgeries are performed, the baby will not be cured. The defective heart will weaken with time and may eventually have to be replaced with a heart transplant.
Nagel Rice Will Fight with Vigor and Determination to Win You Wrongful Birth Damages
Nagel Rice lawyers have comprehensive knowledge of medical malpractice law. More than that, we are deeply compassionate individuals determined to leverage our knowledge to win your case. Our negotiation and litigation skills are widely known and we have long-term experience fighting to obtain compensation for:
- Your medical and surgical costs
- Your childcare costs
- The income you’ve lost while caring for your sick child
- Physical, occupational, and psychological therapy
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
At Nagel Rice, we will work long and hard to bring you the successful outcome you deserve. We have won over $1 billion dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients over the years and we would like nothing better than to win enough money for you to take the best possible care of your child and be free of financial worry as you do so. Contact us as soon as possible so we can start supporting you and working to protect your future and the future of your family.