Last month, Washington state officials reported they were shocked to find that the fatal birth defect anencephaly was occurring more often than it should in Yakima County—8 times more often, in fact.
The Department of Health reviewed 2012 figures, expecting to find a single case of anencephaly among the county’s roughly 4,000 live births, based on the national average. Instead, they found 8 cases.
Investigators are now trying to figure out why.
Anencephaly: ‘Uniformly Fatal’
Anencephaly is a neural tube defect that results in a baby being born with portions of the skull and brain missing. The baby’s head is typically misshapen as a result of this horrific defect, and death shortly after birth is inevitable. The area’s health officer described the defect to the Yakima Herald as “uniformly fatal.”
Can Birth Defects Be Prevented?
There are many causes of birth defects. Exposure to prescription medications is one of the most common. But birth defects sometimes occur due to genetics or even due to no apparent cause at all.
There are steps that expecting mothers can take to increase their odds of having a healthy baby, however.
In a recent story, the Yakima Herald expressed concern that pregnant women in Yakima County might not be receiving adequate pre-natal care. The county has Washington’s third-highest rate of teen pregnancy.
The article reads:
The most conclusive studies show a direct link between neural tube defects and a lack of folic acid, which is found in leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits and legumes, among other foods. Taking vitamins with folic acid is an easy way to help prevent anencephaly — if women know to do so.
Additionally, anencephaly occurs early in pregnancy, the article notes, before many women know they are pregnant. By then, it’s too late to start taking folic acid. That’s why women who may become pregnant should take at least 0.4 milligrams of folic acid daily.
For underprivileged women who lack health insurance or other means, government assistance can typically provide the necessary care.
Doing Our Part
At Perey Law Group, we do our part to try to decrease the number of birth defects in Washington by raising awareness and demanding accountability. We’re proud to represent families and help them take on pharmaceutical giants that sell products that caused a birth defect in their child. If this has happened to your family, contact us today.