A Neural Tube Defect is a birth defect that develops very early in fetal development, when the protective covering of the spinal cord does not close completely. For babies born with severe neural tube defects, they suffer permanent paralysis, and may not be able to walk without assistance. There is growing evidence linking medications such as Depakote, Depakene, SSRIs, and antidepressants to neural tube birth defects when mothers took these medications during pregnancy. Many of these mothers are now pursuing legal claims against the drug-makers.
Do I Have a Neural Tube Defect 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 (Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Wellbutrin, Lexapro, Zyban, Cirpalex) or other medication during pregnancy, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a Neural Tube Birth Defect lawsuit.
Neural Tube Defect Overview
A neural tube defect is a birth defect that affects the brain, spinal cord, or the covering of the spinal cord. It occurs very early in fetal development, when when the fetal spinal column doesn’t close completely, leaving the nerves exposed. Usually, the baby suffers some nerve damage, and there is some paralysis of the legs. These types of birth defects are relatively common, affecting about one baby for every 1,000 live births.
Most neural tube defects can be prevented by getting enough Folic Acid, a type of B vitamin. The FDA recommends that women of childbearing age take a folic acid supplement vitamin every day.
Most babies born with a neural tube defect need ongoing care for the rest of their lives. Because there is no way to surgically repair nerve damage, lifelong treatment usually involves minimizing the impact of the complications of a neural tube defect.
The most common neural tube birth defects are:
- Spina Bifida: People with this birth defect often have paralysis of the nerves below the area of the spine that was damaged. They may not be able to walk without help. They may also have increased pressure in the brain, and lack of control over bowel movements.
- Anencephaly: In this deadly neural tube birth defect, much of the brain fails to develop. Babies with anencephaly usually are stillborn or die shortly after birth.
Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Wellbutrin, Lexapro, Zyban, Cipralex, Depakote, Depakene linked to Neural Tube Defects
Do not start or stop taking any medication — especially an antidepressant — without first consulting a doctor. You should talk to your doctor about all over-the-counter/prescription medicines, dietary supplements, and herbal supplements, because some of these may cause birth defects.
SSRIs / Antidepressant Drugs: Severe neural tube birth defects have been linked to the following medications:
- Paxil, Seroxat (paroxetine)
- Zoloft, Lustral (sertraline)
- Celexa (citalopram)
- Lexapro, Cipralex (escitalopram)
- Symbyax (fluxetine and olanzapine)
- Wellbutrin, Zyban (bupropion)
- Effexor (vanlafaxine)
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
Neural Tube Defect Detection
If you are pregnant and receiving prenatal medical care, your doctor will probably use one of the following tests to look for a neural tube defect:
- Maternal Serum Alpha Fetoprotein (MSAFP) – This is a blood test at approximately 16-18 weeks of pregnancy, in which the mother’s blood is drawn. Doctors look for an elevated level of MSAFP, which would be present if the baby has an open neural tube defect.
- High resolution ultrasound: This is used to visually examine the child at approximately 18 weeks of pregnancy. The ultrasound technician will look for signs of an open spinal cord at the base of the baby’s skull. Anencephaly, a neural tube defect in which the brain fails to develop, may be visually detected sooner than 18 weeks.
- Amniocentesis: This is a test of the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby. This tests is usually only performed if the mother has a family history of neural tube defects.
Treatment & Prognosis
Babies who develop with an open neural defect will need surgery to close the defect. Modern surgical techniques include surgery on the fetus — the surgeon will open the pregnant mother’s abdomen, and surgically repair the open defect on the fetus. The benefit of this technique is that the baby can continue to develop in the womb, and there is less chance that the amniotic fluid will continue to damage the nerves. However, fetal surgery has a risk of miscarriage, premature delivery, and fetal death. If the parents decide to wait until the baby is born to surgically repair the defect, it is likely that the nerves will be so damaged that the child will be unable to walk.
There are also more minor neural defects, called “closed” defects, in which the spinal cord is protected by a layer of skin and the child suffers no nerve damage. Children born with these neural tube defects usually have no paralysis, and lead relatively normal lives.
Do I Have a Neural Tube Defect 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 Neural Tube Defect 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 Neural Tube Defect birth defect lawsuit review.