According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, an estimated 156,950 babies are born every year in Illinois. And thanks to Illinois’ Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes Reporting System (APORS), researchers and the general public have been given an unprecedented view of how many children delivered in state hospitals are born with birth defects.
Congenital Birth Defects: A Statistical Perspective From Illinois
Illinois is one of only thirteen states to keep adequate records of congenital anomalies. From this information, we know that:
- Birth defects are more common in Illinois. While one out of every 33 babies in the US is born with a major birth defect, one out of every 23 babies born in Illinois is.
- Every year, an average of 12,707 Illinois babies is born with a birth defect.
Between 2005 and 2009, the most common birth defects in Illinois were:
- Ventricular septal defect (653 babies every year)
- Atrial septal defect (436 babies every year)
- Patent ductus arteriosus (378 babies every year)
- Cleft lip with or without cleft palate (156 babies every year)
- Hydrocephalus (135 babies every year)
- Cleft palate without cleft lip (86 babies every year)
- Microcephalus (83 babies every year)
- Endocardial cushion defects (78 babies every year)
Ventricular and atrial septal defects are congenital anomalies that affect a baby’s heart. In healthy human hearts, a series of barriers separate each heart chamber to create pressure and make blood flow possible.
In children with septal defects, these barriers fail to form completely. With a hole left between the heart’s chambers, blood leaks between the heart’s sides rather than flowing completely to its proper goal.
Patent ductus arteriosus is another cardiac defect. During fetal development, the ductus arteriosus is a small blood vessel that transports blood around the lungs, rather than through them.Because babies receive oxygen from their mother’s blood supply while in the womb, they don’t yet need a full connection to their own lungs.
Once born, the ductus arteriosus is normally closed off so blood can be carried to the lungs for oxygen. In babies with patent ductus arteriosus, this vessel remains open.
Cleft lip and palate are two birth defects that can, but do not necessarily, accompany one another. Also known as “orofacial clefts,” these anomalies occur when facial tissues fail to fuse properly in the lip or roof of the mouth. Babies are born with clefts, or splits, in either structure, which can inhibit feeding, breathing and speech.
Hydrocephalus occurs when too much cerebrospinal fluid, which is created to cushion the brain within the skull, surrounds a baby’s brain. Excessive fluid puts undue pressure on the brain and can lead to severe headaches, perceptual abnormalities and brain damage.
Microcephalus occurs when the brain does not develop fully in the womb. As a result, babies are born with abnormally small head circumferences. Children with microcephalus do not necessarily experience cognitive delays, although many do.
Endocardial cushion defects are a category of cardiac defects that involve improper development of the endocardial cushion, an area of tissues that eventually form barriers between the heart’s chambers and valves that connect them.
Illinois Counties With Highest Birth Defect Rates
Beyond which birth defects are most common, we’re also given a picture of where the most affected babies are born.
For congenital heart defects, as well as those affecting the Central Nervous System and reproductive organs, Peoria County sees a disproportionately high amount of congenital anomalies.
The incidence of CNS birth defects is twice as high in Peoria County as it is in Illinois overall. Cardiovascular system defects are three times as frequent in Peoria, McDonough and Douglas Counties as the whole state.
Gastrointestinal, or alimentary tract, defects is a notable exception to this trend. This category, which includes cleft palate and cleft lip, is twice as frequent in Boone County as it is in Illinois’ other counties as a whole.
Cook County, home to Chicago and more than 40% of Illinois’ total population, is shockingly low on these lists with the state’s:
- 9th lowest incidence of Central Nervous System birth defects
- 6th lowest incidence of cardiovascular birth defects
- 3rd lowest incidence of alimentary birth defects
- 7th lowest incidence of reproductive system birth defects
- 3rd lowest incidence of musculoskeletal birth defects
For perspective, Illinois is home to 102 counties.
Help For Families In Illinois
While APORS’ tracking of birth defects in Illinois is certainly helpful, the program’s true strength lies in referring families of children with birth defects to services in their area.
One program puts families in touch with a local nurse for a series of free home visits. Over the course of a child’s first two years, the nurse can visit on a regular basis to assess the child’s physical and developmental needs.
Attorneys In Illinois Filing Zofran Birth Defect Lawsuits
This website, sponsored by a national alliance of plaintiffs’ attorneys, was created to inform parents and other interested members of the public of ongoing litigation surrounding the anti-nausea drug Zofran.
In recent years, Zofran has become a leading treatment for the nausea and vomiting common during the first trimester of pregnancy. Despite the fact that Zofran was never approved for this use, and its manufacturer has never studied its effects during human pregnancy, doctors in the US and Canada have begun to prescribe the drug “off-label” to pregnant women for morning sickness.
But recent research has found an increased incidence of birth defects, including cleft palate and congenital heart abnormalities, among babies exposed to Zofran’s active ingredient during early pregnancy. And at least seven newly-filed lawsuits claim that Zofran’s manufacturer was aware of the drug’s alleged potential to cause fetal harm. They also allege that the company marketed Zofran to physicians as a safe and effective treatment for morning sickness, despite having performed no clinical trials to substantiate that claim.
Can Parents In Illinois File Zofran Lawsuits?
If you took Zofran to alleviate the symptoms of morning sickness during your first trimester, and delivered a child with birth defects, you may be entitled to pursue a legal claim against Zofran’s manufacturer.
Among the attorneys who have joined our alliance are lawyers licensed to practice in Illinois. If you are interested in finding more information about filing a Zofran birth defect lawsuit, you can contact our attorneys for a free consultation. Call 1-877-620-8411 or fill out our contact form to speak with an experienced lawyer 24 / 7.