For over a decade, birth defect attorneys at Levy Konigsberg LLP (“LK”), have been representing families whose children suffer from birth defects caused by their parents’ wrongful exposure to toxic chemicals during employment in the semiconductor industry.

That industry has long been aware that chemicals involved in their manufacturing processes, including ethylene glycol ethers, posed dangers to the health of its workers’ offspring. In the 1970s, published literature documented such birth defects based on animal studies. In the early 1980s, the federal government and the State of California released official notices of the reproductive hazards associated with ethylene glycol ethers. The industry’s own trade association, the Semiconductor Industry Association, also informed its members as early as 1982 that ethylene glycol ethers were causing birth defects in animal studies.

Despite this knowledge, the semiconductor industry failed to provide a safe workplace or adequate protections for its employees and their children. Most companies did not substitute ethylene glycol ethers with safer alternative chemicals until the mid to late 1990s. However, they continued to employ men and women of childbearing age in the “Fabs” – the manufacturing facilities where silicon wafers were fabricated. Semiconductor employees often worked in “clean rooms,” which were designed to protect the wafers from contamination by airborne particles. Significantly, however, the recirculated air and inadequate exhausts on the tools in the clean rooms resulted in ongoing harmful exposures to the workers, whose “protective gear” was designed to protect the wafers, rather than the employees.

Birth defect attorneys at LK have brought lawsuits on behalf of families in which the parents were exposed to reproductive toxins in semiconductor manufacturing plants in Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and other states. The types of birth defects involved in these cases include:

  • Retinoblastoma;
  • Limb abnormalities;
  • Heart problems;
  • Brain damage;
  • Spinal cord damage;
  • Skeletal deformities;
  • Organ injuries;
  • Spina bifida;
  • Gestational cancers.

These actions are principally filed in state courts in Delaware, California, and Illinois.

ATTENTION: If you believe that your child’s birth defect was caused by exposure to toxic chemicals or hazardous conditions in your workplace, you and your child may be entitled to compensation. For a free consultation, please call our experienced birth defect lawyers via our 24/7 toll-free hotline at (800) 315-3806 or by submitting a confidential email inquiry.

Types of Birth Defects

Structural Birth Defect

A structural birth defect means that a specific body part is missing or improperly formed. The most common major structural birth defects are heart defects, occurring in as many as one in 100 births. They include atrial and ventricular septal defects, patent ductus arteriosus, and aortic or pulmonary valve stenosis, among other congenital abnormalities of the heart.

For example, another type of major structural defect occurs during the first month of pregnancy when the structure that develops into the brain and spinal cord is forming. These are called neural tube defects (NTDs), and they arise when the neural tube does not close completely by the 29th day after conception. Researchers have not found a cause for this birth defect, but it is common for a parent to unnecessarily blame themselves for the defect. The most common forms of NTDs are spina bifida and anencephaly. Spina bifida happens when the spinal column fails to completely close around the spinal cord. Anencephaly occurs when parts of the brain fail to develop. This defect, often confused with a developmental birth defect, occurs in three out of 10,000 births. Structural, functional and metabolic birth defects can usually be treated with surgery; however, in most cases, there are residual and incurable life-long symptoms.

Once one understands what birth defects are, they realize the sheer number of people living with a birth defect is much higher than most realize. For example, many people would not identify a swallowing or digestion problem as a birth defect. Gastrointestinal birth defects are another type of structural defect. These defects can arise anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, rectum and anus. The incomplete or abnormal development of any of the gastrointestinal organs can result in serious problems, including vomiting, problems in swallowing and problems with bowel movements. Some of the more common gastrointestinal developmental birth defects include esophageal atresia, diaphragmatic hernia, pyloric stenosis, Hirschsprung’s disease, gastroschisis and omphalocele, anal atresia and bilary atresia. Other common structural defects include cleft lip or cleft palate, club foot, hypospadias, and congenital hip dislocation.

Metabolic Birth Defects

Unlike structural or functional defects, metabolic birth defects involve inborn abnormalities of the body’s chemistry and affect about one in every 3,500 babies. This type of defect can involve a body process or chemical pathway or reaction, such as processes that rid the body of waste materials or harmful chemicals. While metabolic birth defects can be harmful and even fatal, they may not cause any outwardly noticeable abnormalities in the child. Examples of metabolic disorders include phenylketonuira (PKU) and congenital hypothyroidism.

Functional or Developmental Birth Defects

Functional or developmental birth defects occur when there is a problem with how a body part or body system works. These developmental birth defects can lead to nervous system or brain problems that result in learning disabilities, mental retardation, behavioral disorders, and speech or language difficulties. Again, most people recognize these problems along with physical deformations as what birth defects are, but fail to recognize less noticeable but often just as debilitating metabolic or internal structural defects. Autism, Down syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy are some examples of functional or developmental birth defects.

ATTENTION: If you believe that your child’s birth defect was caused by exposure to toxic chemicals or hazardous conditions in your workplace, you and your child may be entitled to compensation. For a free consultation, please call our experienced birth defect lawyers via our 24/7 toll-free hotline at (800) 315-3806 or by submitting a confidential email inquiry.



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