Opioids and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
Neonatal abstinence syndrome is a set of conditions that is triggered by a baby's withdrawal from certain drugs, such as opioids, to which the baby is exposed in the womb prior to being born. Opioids are most likely to result in neonatal abstinence syndrome when they are used while a baby is in utero. Sometimes health care providers advise a pregnant woman to use opioids without explaining the potential risks, including neonatal abstinence syndrome and other risks associated with stopping opioids too quickly. If your newborn was harmed by neonatal abstinence syndrome as a result of a failure to warn or another problem associated with opioids, our North Carolina and South Carolina opioid injury lawyers may be able to recover damages by bringing a products liability lawsuit.What is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome?
Prescription opioids that can trigger neonatal abstinence syndrome include hydrocodone, morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and tramadol. Neonatal abstinence syndrome can also be caused by antidepressants and benzodiazepines. Neonatal abstinence syndrome involves several conditions that may affect a newborn baby if the mother used opioids or certain other drugs during pregnancy. Sometimes there are good reasons for this. For example, a woman may be told that giving up opioids would be harmful to her baby. Some women are prescribed certain pills during their pregnancy that cause neonatal abstinence syndrome after they give birth without realizing that their babies could be harmed. If you are injured during your pregnancy, you may be prescribed opioids as pain relievers.
When a newborn is going through neonatal abstinence syndrome, he or she may suffer from fever, seizures, diarrhea, trembling, sleep problems, and birth defects.Opioids and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
What must be shown in a products liability lawsuit depends on state law. In some states, strict liability is applied to products liability lawsuits. However, North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 99B uses a negligence standard. This means that your attorney will need to show that the product was manufactured or designed in an unreasonable way that created a risk of harm to consumers, the manufacturer failed to provide proper instructions for the use of the product, or the manufacturer failed to adequately warn of product dangers, such as neonatal abstinence syndrome.
South Carolina law has several theories that allow for recovery, including breach of warranty. Whichever theory is used, your attorney will need to prove that you were injured by the opioid, the product was in the same condition at the time of the injury as it was when it left the manufacturer, and the injury happened because the opioid was in a defective condition that was unreasonably dangerous to the user. Expert testimony needs to be used to show that a drug was defective and unreasonably dangerous, and this was the legal cause of your baby's injuries.
There are numerous defenses that may be raised by manufacturers in an effort to avoid liability. For example, a manufacturer may raise the learned intermediary doctrine. A drug manufacturer that creates an adequate warning on a label or informational material that details the risk of neonatal abstinence syndrome is allowed to rely on the patient's doctor as a learned intermediary to discuss the advantages and risks of taking a medication. The doctor is supposed to know whether a certain patient is a good candidate for the medication. Generally, however, the medical community does not know enough about the serious risks of neonatal abstinence syndrome in pregnant women using certain drugs, and therefore the doctor could not have made the appropriate risk assessment in many cases.
Another defense that drug manufacturers can raise is contributory negligence. You will not be able to recover damages in North Carolina if your own negligence contributed to the harm done to you. Other potential defenses are the statute of limitations running out or a modification to the medication.Consult a Knowledgeable Attorney Following a Product Injury in North Carolina or South Carolina
If your baby was injured as a result of neonatal abstinence syndrome caused by a drug manufacturer's failure to warn or a doctor's failure to act responsibly, you may have a viable claim. The experienced North Carolina and South Carolina attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson may be able to represent you. We represent people in cities such as Asheville, Franklin, Rutherfordton, Waynesville, Spruce Pine, Greenville, Spartanburg, and Gaffney. Contact us at 1-800-533-6845 or via our online form.