From the point of conception until the eighth week of gestation, an unborn child is considered an embryo. During the embryonic stage, vital organs begin to develop, including the heart, brain and spinal cord. The eye and ear structures are formed, as well as the arms, legs, feet and hands. The lungs begin to develop, as well as the intestines and facial features. The end of the eighth week marks the end of the embryonic period and the beginning of the fetal stage, which lasts until birth. During this period, vital organs continue to grow and begin to differentiate. Red blood cells are produced in the liver, the bones become harder and the fetus becomes more active. After the twentieth week of gestation, rapid brain development occurs, the fetus has increased muscle growth, and the bones are fully formed.
When the development of a fetus is interrupted, by the use of pharmaceuticals for example, any number of complications may occur, including fetal death and hepatic failure. A recent study shows that fetal death occurs in 6.2 out of 1,000 births in the United States; the causes and circumstances of which are constantly being evaluated and classified by experts as they arise. Hepatic failure appears to be a less common injury, with approximately 2,000 cases occurring in the United States annually.
While the circumstances of a large percentage of fetal deaths remain unknown, one of the leading causes is believed to be maternal consumption of pharmaceutical drugs, namely anticonvulsant medications, during pregnancy. These drugs can cause significant harm to a developing fetus, often resulting in major malformations and even death. In fact, drug-related hepatotoxicity is the leading cause of hepatic failure in the United States, making up fifty percent of instances. Research has indicated that infants whose mothers take anticonvulsant drugs during pregnancy have a higher risk of these birth injuries than infants who were not exposed to the drug. In fact, experts suggest that anticonvulsant drugs are one of the most common causes of harm to a fetus in utero. Other causes of fetal death are believed to be prolonged pregnancy, diabetes, hypertension, infection in the mother, and genetic abnormality. In most cases, there is no effective treatment for hepatic failure, other than supportive care. Liver support systems have been developed, but they are only a temporary measure and, to date, have no impact on survival.
Defective drugs can have serious consequences for both the consumer and for the unborn child, if the individual is pregnant when the drug is consumed. Many cases of fetal death and hepatic failure resulting from the use of pharmaceuticals have led to birth injury claims and class action lawsuits. Families of victims of fetal death or hepatic failure believed to be associated with the use of pharmaceutical medications should contact an attorney immediately. You may be entitled to reimbursement for damages and an experienced lawyer can help you collect the compensation you deserve.