What Is Down Syndrome?

Can Down syndrome be wrongly diagnosed? Yes. Also known as trisomy 21, Down syndrome occurs when a child has an extra copy of chromosome 21. The extra chromosome affects a child’s physical and mental development. Symptoms of Down syndrome can range from mild to severe. Victims of Down syndrome may have developmental delays when walking, talking, and acquiring other skills. According to the National Institutes of Health, babies born with Down syndrome may also have the following health conditions:

– Congenital heart disease
– Hearing problems
– Intestinal problems, such as blocked small bowel or esophagus
– Celiac disease
– Eye problems, such as cataracts
– Dementia similar to Alzheimer’s
– Thyroid dysfunctions
– Skeletal problems

Your child with Down syndrome could experience other health problems as well.

Prenatal Testing of Down Syndrome

Many prenatal tests screen for Down Syndrome. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends that all pregnant women be offered the chance to screen for Down syndrome.

Can Down syndrome be wrongly diagnosed? Unfortunately, yes, it can be wrongly diagnosed or missed entirely. A thorough examination of your prenatal medical records by a qualified and experienced wrongful birth lawyer may show the doctor or staff committed critical errors. It missed making a proper Down syndrome diagnosis.

An error may have occurred in one of several steps in the process:

– Your doctor failed to read or interpret test results properly.
– Your doctor did not advise you of your risk of giving birth to a baby with this condition.
– The medical lab failed to perform the appropriate tests or failed to report the results.

Routine medical tests may have revealed you were at risk for delivering a child with Down syndrome. An ultrasound examination called Nuchal Translucency could have revealed fluid in the back of a fetus’ neck, often indicating Down syndrome. Doctors typically perform Nuchal Translucency ultrasounds during the first trimester of pregnancy. However, your OB/GYN can perform one at any time as ultrasounds throughout pregnancy may show abnormal organ growth—which could indicate a congenital disability.

Additionally, you might have learned more about your unborn child if your doctor had performed certain DNA tests. Those tests may have also revealed any genetic defects. Testing the blood circulating through the placenta, umbilical cord, and amniotic fluid could provide key evidence that a child could be born with Down syndrome. 

An OB/GYN should be able to identify and interpret certain genetic markers to identify a child likely to develop Down syndrome. You trust your doctor and staff to make those critical decisions or discuss your options before it’s too late. 

You also trust your doctor to interpret test results correctly. Your doctor can order all the appropriate tests, but misreading the results and misdiagnosing your pregnancy renders those tests useless. 

Down Syndrome and Wrongful Birth Cases

You may want to know your legal rights if your child was born with Down syndrome. Seeking advice from a skilled lawyer could help you understand your rights and what you could do to get justice for yourself and your child.

Parents’ Rights After Down Syndrome Prenatal Misdiagnosis

In these cases, doctors deprive their parents of the choice to terminate the pregnancy or prepare to care for their disabled child. This may be grounds for a wrongful birth case. No parent wants to make the heartbreaking decision between giving birth to a severely disabled child and terminating a pregnancy. Parents do have the right to know the facts and the right to make that decision. Doctors and medical laboratory professionals are responsible for performing proper tests and informing the parents of the results.

You and your family may have a right to compensation for wrongful birth damages if your doctor’s care falls below the standard of care. If you were not informed of your child’s Down syndrome before their birth, you may have a wrongful birth case. Although the name of the legal action sounds peculiar, the cause of action refers to a parent’s right to know everything they can about their child before birth. However, the law does not require a doctor to be omnipotent. Instead, a doctor could be liable for a wrongful birth if prenatal testing could have revealed possible birth defects and other medical problems before the child was born. 

As the plaintiff or claimant, you have the burden to prove your doctor acted negligently by not informing you of possible birth defects or genetic conditions. You must also prove that you would have terminated the pregnancy if your doctor did not misdiagnose your child. For many, the concept is difficult to comprehend, especially since the cause of action does not come to fruition until you have your baby. No one claims that you do not love your child or wish your child was not born. Instead, a wrongful birth case acknowledges the emotional, financial, personal, and perhaps even professional difficulties you face by raising a child with Down syndrome.

Contact O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble for Help

Our attorneys have extensive experience dealing with cases involving birth-related injuries. We will fight on your behalf so you will be able to care for your disabled child. In one wrongful birth case we handled, a mother took the precaution of going to a specialist to determine if her fetus had a rare genetic disorder. The medical testing company failed to do the test, and the doctor failed to notice the omission. The baby was born with myotubular myopathy. The jury awarded $28 million to the family, which enabled the family to to care for their sick child properly.

If your baby was born with Down syndrome, contact O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble. The initial consultation is free and confidential, and you are under no obligation. Contact us online or call (908) 928-9200 or 1-800-586-5817

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