“Wrongful birth” suit arises over child’s permanent disability


Technology has made the journey from conception to birth safer, as well
as more interesting, for Texas parents. These days, expecting mothers
and fathers can track their baby’s progress in the womb and even view
the developing baby’s face through a 4-D ultrasound. Thanks to prenatal
genetic testing, it’s also possible for parents to determine if their
child may have a genetic disease before the fetus is fully developed.

As with all forms of technology, however, genetic testing is prone to human error and
birth injuries, as well as permanent disabilities, can result. Recently, a case in which the names of the parents have been protected for privacy
has made news in the medical community. The mother underwent the common
amniocentesis testing at 16 weeks of pregnancy, as many women do. Since the woman’s husband was a carrier of a rare
genetic disease, the parents wanted to ensure that their baby would be born healthy.

After genetic testing was performed, the report went to the office of the
woman’s obstetrician. A worker in the office phoned the woman to inform
her that the baby would be like her husband: a carrier of the disease,
but asymptomatic of the disease. The parents continued with the pregnancy,
the baby was born and the newborn initially appeared to be healthy. After
about six months, though, the child showed signs of abnormal development.
The young baby’s health continued to get worse, so the parents eventually
visited a geneticist and received devastating news; the child had the
disease itself and the original genetic report had been misread by a worker
in the doctor’s office.

As a result, the parents are suing for what is called “wrongful birth.”
In essence, they indicate that they would not have continued with the
pregnancy had they known that the child would suffer from the debilitating
disease. Wrongful birth suits can be legally complicated, as well as emotionally
wrenching, for parents who have already gone through so much. It is generally
beneficial for parents to obtain extensive legal advice before pursuing
compensation for their child’s injuries following a genetic testing mistake.