Environmental Hazards and Birth Injuries

Pregnant women are vulnerable to many potential causes of harm to the fetuses they are carrying. They must take special care to avoid anything that could interfere with the fetus’s critical developmental process during gestation. This includes environmental hazards. Environmental hazards refer to chemicals, fumes, gases, and other contaminants in the mother’s environment that could have an adverse effect on the developmental process of the fetus. If you believe your child has suffered a birth injury or birth defect because of an environmental hazard, you have legal rights.

What Is an Environmental Birth Injury?

An environmental birth injury refers to harm done to a fetus due to hazards and risk factors in the birth mother’s environment during gestation. Studies have shown that certain environmental hazards can disrupt a fetus’s developmental process while in the womb. Certain chemicals, pollutants and contaminants can deregulate the typical processes that take place during gestation, such as the fetus’s ability to combat viruses and parasites. This can make the infant more vulnerable to illness and disease. 

Environmental birth injuries can take many forms, including asthma, allergies, immune deficiencies, organ damage, brain damage and limb deformities. Environmental hazards can also stunt fetal development, resulting in reduced organ function and related health problems that can affect the infant for life. There is also evidence that exposure to environmental hazards during pregnancy can affect the intelligence and behavior of a child. 

Can Chemicals Pass From Mother to Baby?

Yes. Chemicals in the mother’s environment can be inhaled or ingested and pass to the baby during gestation. This is made possible through the bloodstream. Anything that the mother is exposed to can enter the bloodstream and pass to the fetus through the placenta. After birth, chemicals can still pass from mother to baby through breastmilk.

What Are Common Environmental Hazards for Childbearing Women?

Thanks to modern medicine, pregnant women can now be aware of several environmental hazards and toxins that may exist in their day-to-day lives. Before scientists fully understood the effects of certain chemicals on infant development, such as the presence of lead in gas, a much higher number of babies were born with health problems. Now, knowledge and awareness can protect childbearing women from environmental hazards that can harm fetuses, such as:

  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Dioxin 
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Pesticides
  • Bug sprays
  • Solvents
  • Cleaners 
  • Dry cleaning chemicals
  • Chlorine
  • Organic pollutants

There is no safe amount of exposure to these toxins for expecting mothers. Any amount of exposure at work, at home, secondhand exposure from a spouse or through the mother’s diet could potentially result in birth injuries or defects. 


What Can I Do If I Suspect a Birth Injury Caused By Environmental Hazards?

If your child has been diagnosed with a birth injury, consider the possibility of environmental hazards that you may have been exposed to during your pregnancy. This may be the cause of your child’s injury or birth defect, especially if you do not recall any issues or complications during labor or delivery or shortly after birth, such as the medical malpractice of one of your doctors. 

Although not all birth injuries are caused by environmental hazards – or caused by anything identifiable at all – it is possible that a dangerous chemical or contaminant in your environment caused the harm. If so, you may have grounds to file a birth injury lawsuit against someone for the failure to protect you from a known pollutant. For example, if your employer failed to disclose the presence of lead in your work environment, you may be able to hold your employer responsible for the environmental birth injury.

You may also have grounds to file a product liability claim in Kansas City against the manufacturer of a product that caused an environmental birth injury, such as a cleaner or pesticide. As soon as your child gets diagnosed with a birth injury or birth defect in Missouri, call (816) 268-1960 to speak to a personal injury lawyer in Kansas City. A lawyer can investigate your child’s birth injury and help you understand your legal options as a parent.