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Genetic and Birth Defects

When Genetic Defects Cause Your Child's Disability

A genetic disorder or defect is caused by an abnormality of any one of the hundreds of thousands of genes that make up the human genetic code. It is estimated that there are more than 6,000 genetic disorders, with many more possible that have not yet been discovered or documented.

Some of the more common genetic defects and disorders include:

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Down syndrome
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Mental retardation
  • Heart defects
  • Allergies
  • Cleft lip
  • Physical abnormalities

Genetic Defect vs. Birth Injury

Unlike birth injuries, which are most often caused when a medical professional makes a clear error in judgment during the pregnancy or delivery, genetic defects cannot be avoided. They are inherited. Although genetic testing can predict the probability of passing down a genetic defect, there is no sure way to avoid them when planning for a baby. In many cases, parents do not even realize that they are carriers of genetic problems.

Was Your Child Diagnosed With a Genetic Defect or Disorder?

If your child was diagnosed with a genetic problem, you may feel guilty knowing it was you (or your child's other parent) that passed down this defect. Perhaps you feel concerned about what the future will hold. If this is your first child, you may be worried about having more children. These are normal feelings that many parents feel when coping with a special needs child.

Caring for your child with a genetic defect or a genetic disorder depends on the disorder and the specific abilities of your son or daughter. Some children will require surgery to fix the defect, while others will require lifelong medication to counteract the effects of the abnormality. Some children live relatively normal and healthy lives, while others suffer mental retardation and will need special care throughout their life. It is important to discuss your child's specific needs with your primary physician.

Can Someone Be Held Liable?

Although a genetic defect is outside of anyone's control, it is still possible that someone may be held liable for your child's birth defect. A physician specializing in genetics has the responsibility to warn of potential defects if you consult him or her on the matter. Additionally, many genetic defects can be, and should be, diagnosed early. Although this may not prevent the defect from occurring, it determines the appropriate manner of care a physician should take to care for the mother and baby. Failure to act competently can cause further harm, and may be the basis of a medical malpractice claim.

We Can Help

The Birth Injury Team is a subsidiary of Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., made up of experienced attorneys and medical professionals. Our lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience handling birth injury cases. We are dedicated to helping parents understand their child's condition and guiding them through the process of securing the care and support they need.

To discuss your needs with one of our professionals, contact our office, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We serve clients across the United States.


Located in Philadelphia, Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., home of MyPhillyLawyer, serves clients in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, and throughout the United States.

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