A new study has found that children born with birth defects are more likely to be abused as infants and toddlers than other children. The study was conducted in Texas and involved more than 3 million infants and toddler, over 67,000 of which suffered from some form of birth defect, including cleft lip and cleft palate defects.
Researchers found that infants with cleft lip and cleft palate defects were three times more likely to experience abuse within the first month of their lives, whether it was from within the family or outside of it. Children born with Spina Bifida were also more likely to suffer abuse. Researchers hypothesized that children with visible birth were more likely to suffer abuse.
In several cases, children born with birth defects were surreptitiously subjected to drugs while in the womb after the mother took medication. Zofran, an anti-nausea drug often given to women to combat morning sickness, has come under fire for a potential link to an increased risk of birth defects.
Some studies have found a possible increased risk of cleft lip, cleft palate and other congenital birth defects among children born to women who used Zofran during pregnancy. Although not approved to combat morning sickness, Zofran has been increasingly prescribed to women to quell nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy.
Zofran’s manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline has faced scrutiny for promoting many of its drugs for unapproved uses. The company paid more than $3 billion in 2012 to settle allegations that it promoted drugs, including Zofran, for off-label uses. GSK will likely face more Zofran lawsuits from mothers gave birth to a child with birth defects after using Zofran.