Could faulty breast implants harm an unborn child?

Posted by Malcolm Johnson on

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Recent media reports are discussing the risk of damage to unborn babies from chemical exposure caused by faulty breast implants. Some 47,000 women could have received the implants, which were allegedly filled with industrial-grade silicone.

Tests have revealed a risk of rupture, which could be six times the risk of other brands of breast implants.  There is group litigation continuing against the French company, Poly Implant Prothse, brought by a number of women who received these implants.

However what rights would an unborn child have?  The Civil Disabilities (Congenital Injuries) Act 1976 provides that if a child is born disabled as a result of an "occurrence" to which the Act applies, then that child can bring an action. The "occurrence" is anything that affects either parent of the child in his or her ability to have a normal healthy child.

The Act also applies to mistakes made in fertility treatment, or disabled birth due to radiation.  There is in fact an argument that prior to the 1976 Act, an unborn child would have an action for damages in the same circumstances. In the case of Burton v Islington Health Authority Unreported 18th March 1991, the Court of Appeal said that a child could make a personal injury claim, for damage done to that child whilst in  its mother's womb.

If you are concerned about health issues arising from breast implants, you should seek medical advice from your general practitioner.

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About the Author

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Malcolm is an Senior Associate in our London office, with nearly twenty years' experience.

Malcolm Johnson
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020 7814 5441

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