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Was Your Child Born with a Birth Defect? Toxic Materials That May Have Caused It

Every year, 120,000 babies with birth defects are born in the United States. That figure comes to about 3 percent of births. Many of these birth defects are caused by one or more environmental toxins that affect the development of a human fetus in utero.

If your baby is one of this 3 percent, you should be aware of the toxic materials that may have contributed to the condition.

Here are the most toxic and common materials that are known to contribute to the development of birth defects in unborn babies.


Prior to the public health cleanup efforts of the mid-20th century, lead was a common and extremely dangerous element that was prevalent in paint, plumbing, and gasoline. Now, lead poisoning is much rarer than it was 50 years ago. However, in areas with poor management of water resources (such as Flint, Michigan), lead poisoning is still a very real concern.

Pregnant families should be particularly wary of lead because it passes easily from mother to unborn child, meaning that any exposure that the mother experiences will be shared by the child. Lead seriously impairs a baby’s development. It is known to cause neurological damage, low birth weight, and other problems.


Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) is a compound that was historically employed for various commercial purposes in the United States and elsewhere. However, because of the many health problems it was shown to cause, including cancer, it was outlawed in the US. Its use has been illegal by federal ban since 1978.

Nonetheless, PCB contamination remains a significant public health challenge for a number of reasons, including its effects on unborn children. The typical birth injury attorney spends a significant portion of their time handling cases involving birth defects that are suspected to have resulted from PCB exposure. Materials that might contain PCBs include fluorescent lighting, motor oil, electrical circuit components, and cable insulation.


Chemical pesticide residues are everywhere. While most people think of unwashed vegetables or fruits as the primary culprits of pesticide exposure, this is unfortunately far from true.

In relatively small (but still potentially harmful) amounts, pesticide runoff can be found in most major water supplies and soils. Some of the pesticides and similar products most commonly associated with birth defects include:

  • Zineb
  • Fungicides
  • Nitrofen
  • Amitrole
  • DDT

You can protect yourself as much as possible by eating organic, wearing rubber gloves while gardening, and installing adequate ventilation in your home.

Raising a child with birth defects can be emotionally taxing, and on top of that, it can be expensive. If you believe that any of these toxic materials caused your child’s birth defects, you can talk to a birth injury attorney. They may be able to help you seek compensation so that you can afford your child’s care.

These toxins—lead, PCBs, and pesticides—are three of the most common offenders when it comes to birth defects. Avoid them during pregnancy at all costs, and if you think you were unknowingly exposed to them, talk to an attorney.

Author information: Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University and now writes articles about health, business, family, and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. You can follow her on Twitter @anitaginsburg.

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

About This Blog

The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

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