Cleft Lip is a congenital birth defect in which the baby’s upper lip is separated by a gap. Surgery is required to correct this defect and reduce the chance of complications affecting feeding, speech impariment, and self-esteem problems related to different physical appearance. Several medications taken during pregnancy may increase the risk of having a baby with cleft lip. Topamax, Topiramate, pain medications, and SSRI antidepressants have all been linked to cleft lip.
Do I Have a Cleft Lip Lawsuit? Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged. If you or a loved one has given birth to a child with a birth defect after taking Topamax, Topiramate, pain medications, SSRI antidepressants, or other medication during pregnancy, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a Cleft Lip lawsuit.
Cleft Lip Overview
Cleft Lip, also known as “cheiloschisis” is the fourth most common type of birth defect, in which the baby’s upper lip develops abnormally. During normal fetal development, every baby has a cleft lip and palate. This gap normally closes between the 6th and 11th week of pregnancy. A baby with a cleft lip develops with a gap in the upper lip, or “cleft.” The abnormality can range from a small notch in the upper lip, to a wide separation that extends into the nose. A cleft lip is more than just a facial abnormality — it can lead to problems with eating, talking, ear infections, and dental problems.
Medications Linked to Cleft Lip
SSRIs / Antidepressant Medications:.
- Paxil, Seroxat (paroxetine)
- Zoloft, Lustral (sertraline)
- Celexa (citalopram)
- Lexapro, Cipralex (escitalopram)
- Symbyax (fluxetine and olanzapine)
- Wellbutrin, Zyban (bupropion)
- Effexor (vanlafaxine)
Pain Medication / Cough Medicine: A new study has found that pregnant women who use some types of pain medication (or cough medicine) are more likely to have babies with birth defects.
These medications include:
- Some Cough Medication
Topamax and Topiramate: On March 4, 2011 the FDA required the manufacturers of Topamax and Topiramate to update the safety labeling on the medications to reflect growing evidence linking these drugs to cleft lip, cleft palate, and hypospadias, when women took these medications during pregnancy.
Types of Clefts
Clefts are either unilateral (a cleft on one side of the face) or bilateral (a cleft on both sides of the face).
Half of babies born with a cleft have both a cleft lip and a cleft palate. About one baby for every 1,000 babies are born with both cleft lip and cleft palate. It occurs more frequently in Asian Americans, some groups of Native Americans, and males. It is less frequent in African Americans.
Cleft lip without cleft palate occurs in approximately 20% of cleft birth defects.
Complications of Cleft Lip
Complications of cleft lip depend on the location and severity of the cleft. Severe cases of cleft lip negatively impact the child’s ability to feed, and so many infants must use special feeding devices until the lip is surgically mended. A cleft lip can also negatively impact the child’s development of speech and language, if the lip impairs the child’s ability to form sounds and speak clearly. Speech therapy can help with language development. The child may need to see a pediatric dentist if the cleft causes dental problems, especially if it extends to the gums or affects the proper growth of teeth.
What about breastfeeding?
In nearly all cases of cleft lip, the infant will not be able to get all the milk it needs by breastfeeding alone. The opening in the lip prevents the baby from making a seal necessary for proper suction. Many mothers choose to use non-nutritive sucking exercises to facilitate the bonding experience and help the baby develop important muscles in the baby’s mouth and tongue. A baby with cleft lip will usually need to be fed on a bottle, and many mothers invest in a hospital-grade breast pump. Learning to feed a baby with cleft lip can be challenging. A lactation specialist may be able to help.
Treatment & Prognosis
Treatment of clefts depends on the severity of the cleft and other individual factors. The child may need to undergo multiple surgeries and long-term follow up care, because clefts often interfere with speech development. Surgery is often performed within the first few months of a baby’s life. Many children will need additional surgeries as they get older.
Surgical repair often involves a procedure called a palatoplasy. In this surgery, the sides of the lips are gradually lengthened with a prosthetic device, and later attached together. The type of surgery will depend on the severity of the child’s cleft and other individual factors. Modern surgical techniques have greatly improved to minimize scarring, though plastic surgery may be necessary later in life to improve the appearance of the child’s face.
Long-term prognosis for a child with cleft lip is good, with most children who undergo surgery developing normal speech and language skills.
Do I Have a Cleft Lip Lawsuit?
For a free consultation, please contact Collen A. Clark at The Clark Firm, LLP immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a Cleft Lip lawsuit.
Collen’s amazing success in the courtroom and well known dedication to his clients has earned him the recognition of his peers as one of The Top Trial Lawyers in Texas.”
The Clark Firm has assembled a team of trial lawyers with more that 100 years experience, participation in over 600 jury trials and $60 million in verdicts and/or settlements. Please use the form below to contact us for a free Cleft Lip birth defect lawsuit review.