Encephalocele is a serious neural tube birth defect in which a baby is born with a sac protruding from its skull that may contain brain matter and spinal fluid. Nearly half of babies with this birth defect do not survive to birth, and many that do survive suffer severe complications. There is evidence that when pregnant women take certain medications (such as Depakene, Depakote, and SSRI antidepressants) they have a higher chance of having a baby with a birth defect such as Encephalocele.
Do I Have an Encephalocele 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 an SSRI, antidepressant, or other medication during pregnancy, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing an Encephalocele lawsuit.
Encephalocele (in-sef-a-luh-seal) is a birth defect that occurs about once for every 10,000 live births. It is a neural tube birth defect, in the same group as spina bifida and anencephaly. It occurs when the fetus is developing in the womb, when the skull does not close completely, allowing cerebral spinal fluid and brain tissue to protrude in sacs. It is less severe when brain matter does not protrude through the defect into the sac. Usually, however, it is a very severe birth defect. About half of babies born with encephalocele die before they are born.
Medications linked to Encephalocele
Anti-Seizure Medications – The group of medications (usually prescribed to prevent seizures, for manic-depressive episodes, migraine headaches, and other mood conditions) has been linked to birth defects, according to new research. Drugs in this group include:
- Depakote CP
- Depakote ER
SSRIs / Antidepressant Drugs:
SSRIs and antidepressants include the following prescription medications:
- Paxil, Seroxat (paroxetine)
- Zoloft, Lustral (sertraline)
- Celexa (citalopram)
- Lexapro, Cipralex (escitalopram)
- Symbyax (fluxetine and olanzapine)
- Wellbutrin, Zyban (bupropion)
- Effexor (vanlafaxine)
Signs & Symptoms of Encephalocele
Encephalocele is usually diagnosed with an ultrasound or an MRI that provides an image of the developing baby’s cranium. When the baby is born, it will be visually apparent as an abnormal sac of tissue covered with skin that protrudes from the baby’s skull, either in the front or in the back. Encephaloceles cause a groove down the middle of the skull, between the forehead and the nose or the back of the skull. Girls are more likely to have a defect in the back; boys are more likely to have it in the front. Babies in North America are more likely to have the defect in the back. Babies in Southeast Asia are more likely to have it in the front.
Because the protruding sac makes the baby’s head very large, it will be necessary for the mother to give birth with a Caesarian section.
- mental deficiencies (approximately 75% of babies with encephalocele have mental deficiencies)
- hydrocephalus (abnormal accumulation of fluid in the brain)
- spastic quadriplegia (paralysis of the arms and legs)
- microcephaly (smaller than average head size)
- ataxia (uncoordinated voluntary movements)
- developmental delays
- vision problems
- growth retardation
Treatment & Prognosis
Treatment depends on the size of the defect and whether brain tissue is involved in the protrusion. If there is brain matter, treatment is usually complex. If there is no brain matter protruding, prognosis and treatment often have good outcomes. This birth defect is often associated with other abnormalities of the brain.
The location of the abnormality also greatly impacts the prognosis and survival rate. When it is located in the front of the brain, survival rate is usually very good. Those located in the back have only a 50% chance of survival, because they are more likely to involve parts of the brain that are essential for survival.
Surgical repair is the only viable treatment, and involves placing the protruding tissues back inside the skull and suturing the opening. Surgery is usually performed at around 4 months of age. Some neurosurgeons prefer a surgical technique called Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA), which is a minimally invasive procedure, with the benefit of no scarring, disfigurement, and minimal healing time. This may be an option if the defect is small.
Sometimes, when the defect is large and there are other abnormalities, parents will decide not to subject their child to surgical treatment. In these cases, treatment involves making the baby as comfortable as possible, but does not involve treatments to extend the child’s life expectancy.
Do I Have an Encephalocele Lawsuit?
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