Out of all 50 states, Michigan is one of only 14 to maintain records on children born with birth defects. Michigan’s Birth Defects Registry (MBDR) was founded over 20 years ago with the mission of gaining insight into the causes and successful treatment of congenital abnormalities, by tracking birth defect incidence throughout the state.

How Common Are Birth Defects In Michigan?

Unlike most state birth defect tracking programs, the MBDR makes a distinction between “birth defects” and “major birth defects”:

Out of 114,717 babies born to Michigan families in 2010, approximately 6% of newborns were diagnosed with a birth defect by the age of one.

From 2000 to 2010, around 3% of babies born in the state were diagnosed with major birth defects, anomalies that may be life-threatening, or have a potential to result in long-term disability.

This category typically includes cleft lip, cleft palate and the majority of congenital heart defects, although certain unique cases may not be considered “major” by health care professionals, and thus not recorded as such.

The MBDR released its last comprehensive report on birth defects in Michigan in 2011, and the information covers 1992 through 2006. Over that period, the overall incidence of congenital anomalies increased. In 1992, around 650 out of every 10,000 babies born in Michigan (6.5%) were diagnosed with a birth defect, major or not.

By 2006, approximately 830 out of 10,000 (8.3%) were recorded as being born with a birth defect. While the Centers for Disease Control reports that around 3% of babies nationwide are born with birth defects, it is likely that the agency only includes major birth defects in that statistic. Thus, Michigan’s proportion looks far higher than the country’s, but may not be in fact.

Congenital Heart Defects In Michigan

Congenital heart defects (CHD) are the most common type among babies born in Michigan, making up 23% of all birth defects recorded in 2006.

Atrial Septal Defects, anomalies that involve holes in cardiac tissue, were the most common CHD between 1992 and 2006. Around 61.3 out of every 10,000 babies born in Michigan were diagnosed with an ASD before the age of one.

Atrial septal defects were followed in frequency by Patent Ductus Arteriosus. This cardiac abnormality occurs when a blood vessel, which usually becomes unnecessary after birth and closes on its own, remains open. About 41.1 out of every 10,000 Michigan babies were born with PDA during the 15 year period under investigation.

Ventricular septal defects, an anomaly similar to atrial septal defects in which holes remain open in cardiac tissue, were the third most frequently recorded congenital heart defect. Approximately 40.9 children out of every 10,000 live births were diagnosed with a VSD in Michigan.

Orofacial Clefts In Michigan

Orofacial clefts is a category that includes cleft lip and cleft palate. Babies can be born with “isolated” cases, in which only the lip or the palate are separated, or can be born with a cleft in both the lip and palate.

Overall, the rate of orofacial clefts among babies born in Michigan has remained unchanged in the years between 1992 and 2006, holding steady at around 16 cases per 10,000 live births. As in children throughout the nation, cases of cleft lip and cleft palate are more common than isolated cleft palate.

Orofacial clefts are more common in children born to younger mothers, those under the age of 24, than those born to older women. A study performed between the years of 1968 and 2000, investigating the effect of maternal age on birth defect prevalence in Atlanta, also found that the risk of children developing an orofacial cleft seems to decrease as mothers age.

Michigan Zofran Birth Defect Lawsuits

Zofran.Monheit.com, a website sponsored by a multi-state coalition of plaintiffs’ attorneys, was created to educate families and the general public on ongoing litigation that surrounds the popular anti-nausea drug Zofran.

Zofran is FDA approved to treat severe nausea and vomiting in patients being treated for cancer through chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as well as individuals undergoing surgical anesthesia.

It has not been approved as a treatment for the nausea and vomiting common during the first trimester of pregnancy. Nor has Zofran’s manufacturer ever studied the drug’s effects on pregnant women or their unborn children in clinical trials.

In the United States, as well as Canada, pharmaceutical companies are prohibited from marketing their drugs for unapproved uses. But in 2012, the US Department of Justice brought civil and criminal charges against Zofran’s manufacturer, which included allegations that the company had promoted Zofran directly to physicians as a “safe and effective” treatment for morning sickness.

While the company continues to deny this allegation, Zofran has become one of America’s leading treatments for the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Physicians prescribe Zofran to pregnant women for morning sickness “off-label,” for an unapproved purpose.

Meanwhile, at least four large-scale studies have sought to investigate Zofran’s effects when used as a morning sickness treatment by reviewing hundreds of thousands of birth records. Teams of researchers from Denmark, Sweden, Western Australia and the US have all found an increased incidence of birth defects, including cleft palate and congenital heart defects, among babies born to women prescribed Zofran’s active ingredient.

Now, seven US families have filed personal injury lawsuits against Zofran’s manufacturer, claiming that the company has been aware of the drug’s alleged potential to cause fetal harm for more than a decade. They allege that Zofran’s producer promoted the drug for use during pregnancy, despite having no clinical evidence to demonstrate its safety or efficacy in pregnant women. In fact, they claim that Zofran’s manufacturer had evidence suggesting the contrary.

Can My Family File A Zofran Lawsuit In Michigan?

If you were prescribed Zofran during the first trimester to alleviate the symptoms of morning sickness, and then gave birth to a baby with congenital defects, you may be eligible to bring a claim for compensation against the drug’s manufacturer.

Monheit Law has joined with an alliance of experienced lawyers to investigate the claims of families who believe that a child’s birth defects may have been caused by exposure to Zofran. We are currently reviewing cases in the US and Canada.

While our attorneys are not admitted to practice law in Michigan, we are licensed to practice in Delaware, where the company that makes Zofran is based. For that reason, we may be able to file a claim on your behalf in Delaware. We may also be able to recommend local counsel in Michigan to handle your case.

Our attorneys are here to answer any questions you have about this ongoing litigation. If you would like to learn more, call 1-877-620-8411 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation.