Spina bifida is a birth defect in which the backbone and spinal canal do not close before birth. It is classified as a type of neural tube defect. Normally the neural tube forms early and closes within the first month of pregnancy. When a portion of the neural tube fails to develop or close properly, leaving an open area, it is called spina bifida.
There are various forms of spina bifida. Spina bifida occulta is the mildest form and may never cause any health problems for the child nor affect the child’s spinal cord. Spina bifida meningocele and myelomeningocele are two more serious forms. When meningocele occurs, the protective membranes around the spinal cord, known as meninges, push out through an opening in the vertebrae. With this type, the spinal cord still develops normally, and the membranes can be removed with surgery, leaving little or no damage to nerve pathways. Myelomeningocele is the most severe type of spina bifida in which the baby’s spinal canal remains open along several vertebrae. Through this opening, both the membranes and the spinal cord protrude from the back at birth, forming a sac on the baby’s back. Often these tissues are exposed, leaving the baby open to life-threatening infections. This form of spina bifida also commonly results in neurological impairment.
Depakote: The risk of developing spina bifida for babies prenatally exposed to Depakote was increased by 12 to 16 times, compared to unexposed babies, according to the New England Medical Journal.
Clomid: Use of the fertility drug Clomid by a pregnant woman can increase the risk of her baby developing spina bifida, according to research conducted by Wu et al. The risk is shown to be increased 10-fold.
Anti-depressants: Babies whose mothers took certain antidepressants during pregnancy have a 60 percent increased risk of developing neural tube defects over unexposed babies, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The anti-depressants linked to this and other birth defects may include:
Effexor, a similar anti-depressant, is also being researched for a possible link to an increased risk of spina bifida.
Painkillers: Maternal use of certain opioid painkillers during pregnancy can double an infant’s risk of developing spina bifida, according to the ongoing National Birth Defects Prevention Study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Opioid painkillers include:
The treatment for spina bifida depends on the form and severity of the defect. Spina bifida occulta rarely needs to be treated. Mengingcele requires surgery to put the meninges back in place and close the opening in the vertebrae. Myelomeningocele also necessitates surgery, usually immediately after birth. The procedure can help minimize the heightened risk of infection and may also assist in protecting the spinal cord from additional injury. Ongoing care is often needed for babies with myelomeningocele to treat conditions such as paralysis and bladder and bowel problems. These babies may also need further surgeries to combat a variety of complications.
Your Baby’s Rights
If your baby was born with spina bifida 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.
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.