Get Smart for Your Baby with Birth Defect Prevention Resources

Pregnancy can be an exciting but scary time. The potential for birth defects often weighs heavily on mothers’ minds, and unfortunately, not all are not all preventable. But there are proactive steps you can take to ensure that your baby grows healthy and stays healthy.

The Start Smart for Your Baby® program was created in Texas by Superior HealthPlan to help reduce the rate of low-birth-weight deliveries among women on Medicaid. Women who join the program receive a pregnancy-related risk assessment as early as possible and have access to a comprehensive care network of clinical teams, care coordinators and community partners.

As an added bonus, participants can earn up to $100 in rewards for healthy behaviors related to pregnancy, such as completing prenatal and postpartum medical visits. Members also have access to educational baby showers, car seats, diaper bags and breast pumps to help support them.

Superior has supported more than 260,000 deliveries through Smart Start for Your Baby® since 2014, helping to improve birth outcomes through early identification and intervention for high-risk pregnancies. Women who participate are less likely to have a baby born weighing less than 3 pounds, 5 ounces.

Victims of Birth Defects in the United States 

A birth defect is a problem that occurs while a baby is developing in the mother’s body. Most birth defects happen during the first three months of pregnancy. One out of every 33 babies in the United States is born with a birth defect.

Birth defects can range from mild to severe. The most common birth defects include cleft palate and cleft lip, genetic defects like Down syndrome, heart defects, musculoskeletal defects and stomach/intestinal defects. How a defect affects a child’s life depends on which organ or body part is involved and how severe the defect is. Birth defects are the leading cause of infant death and contribute substantially to long-term disability.

What Causes Birth Defects?

Many birth defects are caused by genetic factors beyond our control, researchers say, such as gene mutations or chromosomal problems. However, exposure to chemicals and other toxic substances is a major cause of birth defects, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Toxins that pose real threats to the development of the fetus in pregnant women include lead, mercury, arsenic, bisphenol-A (BPA), pesticides, chlorine, flame retardants and more. Birth defects are often developed within the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman even knows she is pregnant. Exposure can occur in the workplace or through the environment.

For example, living near a hazardous waste site has been identified as a possible risk factor for birth defects, including spina bifida, cleft lip or palate, gastroschisis, hypospadias, chromosomal congenital anomalies such as Down syndrome, and some heart and blood vessel defects.

High-Risk Industries for Toxic Chemical Exposure 

Although we are exposed to more chemicals today than ever, federal regulations do not do enough to study the impact of exposure or prevent it. Exposure can happen in almost any workplace setting. The industries linked to having a high-risk of toxic exposure include industrial and manufacturing—specifically semiconductor and electronics manufacturing, as well as chemical manufacturing, transportation, mining, warehousing, oil and gas, construction, agriculture and health care, among others.

It’s not just women who are at risk when it comes to exposure and potential birth defects. For men,  exposure to toxic chemicals can alter and weaken sperm, dramatically affecting the fertilized egg and fetus development. A new study from the University of Georgia found that exposure to a now-banned flame retardant can alter the genetic code in sperm, leading to major health defects in children of exposed parents.

How We Help Birth Defects Victims

Seek justice with the help of our experienced birth defects attorneys. Our alliance of birth defects victims have represented people like you affected by birth defects caused by toxic exposure, aggressively fighting the corporate giants who failed to protect vulnerable workers. If you or a loved one was exposed to chemicals while pregnant and now have a child who suffers from a life-altering birth defect like spina bifida, muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy, we can help.