In most cases, birth is a joyful occasion, but for parents who find out that their newborn has a condition known as trisomy 18, it can be a time of worry and even despair. Although modern medical and genetic testing can give expectant parents the option of terminating a pregnancy that will result in this tragic situation, for some parents these options are not available due to negligence on the part of their obstetrician or on the part of genetic counselors, laboratory technicians, or lapses in health facility protocol.
If you are a parent of a child with trisomy 18, the skilled and compassionate wrongful birth attorneys at Nagel Rice LLP are well-prepared to fight for your rights and the rights of your offspring. The law entitles you to substantial compensation to cover the exorbitant costs of caring for your child and for the anguish endured not only by your affected child, but by your whole family.
What is trisomy 18?
Trisomy 18 is a chromosomal abnormality, also known as Edwards syndrome after the doctor who first distinguished it from other birth defects. Normally when the egg and sperm unite to form an embryo, the embryo receives 23 chromosomes from each parent for a total of 46. In some cases, however, for unknown reasons, one of the parents passes on an extra chromosome so that the embryo inherits three copies of chromosome 18 in some or all of its cells. Such a tiny genetic error can make all the difference in the world.
Types of Trisomy 18 and the Abnormalities that Result from Them
There are three types of trisomy 18, all leading to some form of abnormal development. Two of the types — partial trisomy 18 and mosaic trisomy 18 — are
extremely rare. Although the most common type — full trisomy 18 — occurs in only one in 5,000 births, the defect is the second most common variety of trisomy syndrome, the most common being trisomy 21, the condition we know as Down syndrome. In addition to the one birth in 5,000 affected by trisomy 18, many more fetuses with the condition don’t survive the second or third trimester of pregnancy.
What is wrongful birth?
When a doctor fails to warn you of the risk of conceiving or giving birth to a baby with severe congenital abnormalities, you are deprived of your right to avoid the painful challenges involved in that infant’s life and early death. This failure on the part of a medical professional, when it results from provable negligence, is considered medical malpractice and is cause for legal action. The highly capable medical malpractice attorneys at Nagel Rice will support you by assisting you in filing a claim of wrongful birth against the party that wronged you, whether your doctor or a testing center. We have a track record of winning significant damages for New Jersey clients who have suffered the misery of a wrongful birth. We are eager to win your case and give your family the financial security to carry the heavy load you have been forced to bear.
The Symptoms of Trisomy 18 Are Many and the Condition Cannot Be Cured
Babies born with trisomy 18 are small and fragile; their cries are weak. Heartbreakingly, they will suffer many or all of the following symptoms:
- Small head (microcephaly)
- Low-set ears
- Small jaw (micrognathia)
- Widely spaced eyes
- Cleft palate
- Difficulty feeding
- Heart defects
- Clenched fists with overlapping, hard to straighten fingers
- Chest deformity
- Defects of the lungs, kidneys, and digestive tract
- Deformed feet “rocker-bottom” feet
- Slow grown and severe developmental delays
It is hard to imagine a more painful existence than that of a child with trisomy 18 and for the parents of that child. The condition cannot be cured and will lead to early death. Modern day medicine has only supportive treatment to offer. As noted, many trisomy babies, more males than females, are stillborn. Of the live births with trisomy 18, less than 10 percent survive until their first birthday; many die within days. Those who do survive require ongoing, extensive care. A tiny percentage of individuals with this condition reach young adulthood.
Identifying Risk Factors and Diagnosing the Condition During Pregnancy
The chances of any pregnancy resulting in the birth of a baby with trisomy 18 is very small, but it increases significantly with the age of the mother. While a 25-year-old mother has about a one in 476 chance of having a trisomy 18 pregnancy; a 45-year-old mother’s risk increases to one in 20. There is also a small degree of increased risk for a mother who has already carried or borne a child with trisomy 18. Genetic counseling and/or testing should be recommended to any couple considered at risk, particularly if the mother is later in her child-bearing years. Since the trend is now for women to have their offspring later, genetic counseling is more often considered necessary.
All obstetricians now routinely administer sonograms to pregnant women and ultrasound results may cause them to suspect a serious problem. Though trisomy 18 can’t be accurately diagnosed from the ultrasound alone, if the condition is suspected, amniocentesis (to sample cells from the amniotic fluid) or chorionic villus sampling (to analyze the chromosomes in cells from the placenta) is definitely recommended. The chromosome blood test will also help to determine the mother’s risk of having another baby with trisomy 18.
When Your Doctor Fails You
When wrongful births of babies with trisomy 18 are the result of medical negligence, Nagel Rice’s sharp attorneys will listen carefully to the details of your case and examine all medical data, going back to the beginning of the pregnancy or to the period during which you sought genetic counseling. Once we determine that you have a viable case, we will work out an appropriate strategy for negotiation and, if necessary, forceful litigation.
Contact Our Trisomy 18 Wrongful Birth Attorneys
Nagel Rice is no ordinary medical malpractice law firm. We have been helping clients for over three decades and have won over $1 billion dollars in verdicts and settlements. We know how overwhelmed you must be to find yourself in this almost unspeakably painful situation. Having a child with serious health issues is bad enough, but having a child who will suffer and die due to medical negligence is beyond the pale.
Our wrongful birth attorneys are not only excellent legal representatives; we are also empathic human beings. Although we cannot cure your child or lessen your grief, we can provide you with support and solace. More than that, we will pull out all the stops to win you the substantial damages you deserve to give your child the very best medical care and quality of life possible and to provide your family with the financial stability to withstand a period without income while you take time off to care for your precious, suffering baby. Contact us today!