Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip

Cleft palate and cleft lip (collectively called oral clefts) belong to a category of birth defects called oral clefts. Cleft lip is characterized by a defect in the upper lip that may appear as a small notch or be a complete split of the lip going all the way to the base of the nose. The defect may change the shape of the nose to varying degrees. Cleft palate affects the roof of the mouth and may be on either side or go the full length of the palate. Babies with cleft palate may struggle to eat until the defect is corrected.

Causes of Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip

Topamax: Babies exposed to the antiepileptic drug Topamax in utero are nearly 3 times more likely to develop an oral cleft than unexposed babies, according to the North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry.

Depakote: The New England Journal of Medicine linked anti-epilepsy drug Depakote to a more than 5 times increased risk of cleft palate development for babies exposed before birth compared to those who were not exposed.

Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip Treatment

Oral clefts must be corrected with surgery. Often, a cleft lip can be fixed in one procedure, performed when the baby is between two and nine months of age. Cleft palate is more serious and can require multiple surgeries and medical devices to repair. Surgery to fix cleft palate is usually performed before one year so the child’s speech can develop. After reconstructive surgery, children with cleft palate will need speech and hearing treatment to deal with the variety of speech problems caused by the birth defect. Children with oral clefts may benefit from physiological and psychological therapy to help them deal with the effects of the condition.

Your Baby’s Rights

If your baby was born with an oral cleft that may have been caused by exposure to prescription drugs before birth, your family deserves financial compensation. Although no amount of money will change what happened to your baby, compensation will help offset the current and future medical costs, as well as provide for the pain and suffering you and your baby have experienced. Filing a claim will also teach the manufacturers of unsafe medications that it is unacceptable to not warn parents of the risks associated with these drugs, including serious birth defects. Your suit may even prevent other families from suffering as yours has, by forcing the pharmaceutical company to change their drug’s label to warn parents of the potential risks.

Contact Us

You may be eligible for compensation to ease the financial burdens associated with your baby’s injury. Contact us today to set up a free consultation, during which we will listen to your story, answer any questions you may have and discuss your legal rights and options. If you choose us to represent you, we will work with you on a contingency fee basis; this means you pay nothing until we have secured compensation for you, either through a jury verdict or settlement.


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