Three counties in Washington State are struggling to explain a dramatic increase in a severe neural tube birth defect called anencephaly by area hospitals over the past 5 years. Anencephaly is so rare that it is usually written off as a fluke, but rates in Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties are so high that researchers have begun to speculate that the use of certain prescription drugs during pregnancy — including Zofran — may be the cause.
Free Zofran Lawsuit Evaluation: If your child or other loved one was born with a birth defect after the mother took Zofran during pregnancy, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit against the manufacturer and our lawyers can help.
What’s the problem?
At least 41 women have lost babies to anencephaly since 2010 in the 3 counties. This rate is nearly 5 times higher than the national average, and the discovery has highlighted a number of government policies that may actually conceal these types of birth defect clusters rather than assist investigate them.
Most of the 41 mothers have yet to be contacted by Washington State health officials, according to the Seattle Times. Nor have any tests been conducted to determine whether the cases of anencephaly are linked to genetic mutations, environmental toxins, or both.
Interviews and tests aren’t required by law, but both are considered “standard protocol […] by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” according to the authors.
Meanwhile, Washington’s Medicaid program continues to follow a set of rules that limit pregnant women’s access to folic acid, a B vitamin known to decrease the risk for birth defects like anencephaly.
Allison Ashley-Koch, a researcher at Duke University, noticed the state’s high anencephaly numbers early, but she says government officials never followed up on her concerns.
Analyzing birth defect records from across the U.S., Ashley-Koch identified Washington’s cluster of anencephaly 2 years ago. But when she contacted the CDC to investigate the matter, the Center seemed uninterested. “Basically, they just said, ‘Thank you, but no thank you,’ she told the reporters.
Less than half of U.S. states have an “active” birth defect surveillance system, which specifically filters medical records for birth defects. Washington isn’t one of them. Instead, the state’s health department relies on doctors to take the initiative and voluntarily report defects themselves.
This doesn’t always happen, which means that the true number of birth defects may be massively under-reported. Factor in the rarity of most defects, and you have a system that could be missing clusters like the one in Washington all across the US. Crucial opportunities to understand the causes of birth defects are likely being lost along the way, as well.
Do I Have a Zofran Lawsuit?
The Product Liability & Defective Drug Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Zofran lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new birth defect cases in all 50 states.
Free Confidential Case Evaluation: Again, if your baby was injured by Zofran side effects, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a class action suit and our lawyers can help.