Spina Bifida is a birth defect in which the covering of the spinal cord does not close completely while the baby is developing in the womb. Severe cases may require fetal surgery, in which a surgeon operates on an unborn baby to close the defect. Many children with spina bifida have lifelong disabilities, ranging from minor to severe paralysis. Several types of prescription medications, including antidepressants, SSRIs, Depakote, and Depakene have been linked to spina bifida and other birth defects when mothers took these medications during pregnancy. Now, many mothers are filing lawsuits against the drug-makers.
Do I Have a Spina Bifida 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, Depakote, Depakene, or other medication during pregnancy, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a Spina Bifida lawsuit.
Spina Bifida Linked to Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, Wellbutrin, Symbyax, Efexor, Depakote, Depakene
Talk to your doctor about all medications you are taking if you are pregnant, thinking about becoming pregnant, or breastfeeding. Over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, dietary supplements, and herbal supplements may cause birth defects or be passed through breast-milk. Do not start or stop any medication without first consulting a physician.
SSRIs / Antidepressant Drugs: There is a growing body of research linking Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and antidepressants to a wide range of birth defects.
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)
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
What is Spina Bifida?
Spina bifida, which literally means “cleft spine,” is the most common neural tube birth defect in the U.S., affecting 1,500-2,000 babies born every year. It is a type of neural tube defect, which is characterized by an underdevelopment of the brain, spinal cord, or the covering of the brain and spinal cord. It occurs during the first month of fetal development, when the baby’s spine covering does not close completely.
Types of Spina Bifida
In a normal body, the spinal cord is protected by spinal bones called the vertebrae, skin, and meninges. When there are abnormal opening or malformations of these structures, a person has spina bifida.
There are four types of Spina Bifida:
- Occulta: The mildest form, which is present in 10-20% of the population and rarely causes disability or symptoms, in which one or more vertebrae are malformed, and the opening in the spine is covered by a layer of skin.
- Closed neural tube defect: Involves a diverse array of malformations that may include bone, fat, or membranes around the spinal cord. Some people with this defect have no symptoms; others have incomplete paralysis or incontinence.
- Meningocele: The spinal fluid or the meninges protrude through an opening in the vertebrae, and may be covered by a layer of skin. This malformation does not affect the spinal cord itself. Some people with this type of neural tube defect show no symptoms; others have severe paralysis.
- Myelomeningocele: The most severe type of spina bifida occurs when there is an opening in the spine that exposes the spinal cord. Symptoms include partial or complete paralysis, sensory deficits, and may include incontinence.
Signs & Symptoms of Spina Bifida
Symptoms vary depending on the type of defect and the severity. There is usually nerve damage that causes at least some paralysis of the legs, so most people who have spina bifida will need assistive devices to walk (braces, crutches, or a wheelchair). Though some children with spina bifida may have learning disabilities, most are of normal intelligence.
Spina bifida can often be diagnosed before the baby is born, during routine prenatal screenings around the 16th to 18th week of pregnancy. There are several ways to diagnose the birth defect before the baby is born, including ultrasound, testing the amniotic fluid, and looking for abnormally high levels of a protein called alpha-fetoprotein (AFP). Abnormally high levels of this protein may indicate that the fetus has an “open” neural tube defect.
After the baby is born, spina bifida may be visually apparent as an opening in the spinal cord at the base of the baby’s skull. If the defect is covered by skin, however, it may not be obvious, and a doctor who suspects a closed neural tube defect will need to use an X-ray or MRI to get a clear image of the spine and vertebrae.
Treatment & Prognosis
There is no cure for spina bifida, and the damage to the nerve tissue cannot be repaired. Many doctors believe that the earlier the defect is diagnosed and corrected, the less severe it will be for the child later on. For this reason, many hospitals perform fetal surgery, in which the mother’s abdomen is opened and a surgeon closes the neural tube defect on the unborn baby. There is a risk of complications to the fetus during this surgery, including hemorrhage and premature delivery. However, the benefits of closing the neural tube defect include less exposure of nerve tissue to toxic amniotic fluid. The type of treatment will depend on the severity of the defect and other individual factors.
Do I Have a Spina Bifida Lawsuit?
For a free consultation, please contact the Collen A. Clark at The Clark Firm, LLP immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a Spina Bifida 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 Spina Bifida birth defect lawsuit review.