Even though prescription medications may provide enormous benefits to their users, they may also present significant risks to unborn babies if taken by expecting mothers during pregnancy. One of the severe birth defects that has been linked to the maternal use of prescription drugs is iniencephaly, a rare congenital abnormality that stems from a malformation of the neural tube. When a baby’s neural tube fails to form properly, the results can be catastrophic.

Iniencephaly Lawsuit Review: If you or somebody you know has a child who has been diagnosed with iniencephaly after being exposed to prescription medications in the womb, you should contact our lawyers immediately. Consultations are always free. Please use our confidential email contact form or call toll free 24 hrs/day by dialing (866) 588-0600.

Which drugs have been linked to iniencephaly?

While the exact cause of iniencephaly is currently unknown, mothers of children born with this horrible condition have often been found to have taken selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs during the early stages of pregnancy. There is ongoing research to identify whether there are additional factors such as nutritional, environmental, and genetic issues that play a role in a fetus developing iniencephaly. The following SSRI antidepressants may play a role in the occurrence of this birth defect:

  • Paxil (paroxetine)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Celexa (citalopram)
  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Symbyax (fluoxetine and olanzapine)
  • Wellbutrin (bupropion)
  • Effexor (venlafaxine)

In addition to these antidepressants, the following epilepsy medications have also been associated with iniencephaly in babies born to mothers who took the drugs during pregnancy:

  • Depakote (Divalproex Sodium)
  • Depakote CP
  • Depakote ER
  • Depakene (valproic acid)
  • Depacon (valproate sodium injection)

Iniencephaly Overview

The neural tube represents the foundation of an embryo’s central nervous system (CNS), which begins to develop only a few weeks after conception. Normally, the neural tube fuses together in early gestation and the development of the spinal cord and brain follows by week 25. However, if there is a problem with fetal development during this time, a neural tube birth defect may occur. This type of congenital abnormality has a number of different categories depending on the severity, type, and location of the defect. One of the most severe manifestations of neural tube defects is a condition known as iniencephaly.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), iniencephaly is a severe congenital birth defect caused by improper closure of the neural tube during the first trimester of pregnancy. The defect results in severe backward bending (retroflexion) of the head combined with severe distortion of the spine. The neck is typically absent and the skin of the face is directly connected to the skin of the chest, while the scalp is directly connected to the skin of the back. Additionally, The fetus is described to have a fixed ‘stargazer’ type extended posture. Other features may include:

  • exaggerated cervico-thoracic lordosis
  • deficient (short) or fused cervical vertebrae
  • variable deficit in occipital bone
  • due the the head position, the fetal crown rump length may be lower than expected for gestational age
  • may have concurrent polyhydramnios

Iniencephaly is in the same class of neural tube defects as spina bifida, but it is much more severe. The vast majority of babies born with iniencephaly have additional birth defects, such as:

  • anencephaly (in which major sections of the brain fail to form)
  • cephalocele (in which part of the cranial contents protrudes from the skull)
  • cyclopia (in which the two cavities of the eyes fuse into one)
  • lack of a lower jaw bone
  • cleft lip / cleft palate
  • cardiovascular disorders
  • diaphragmatic hernias
  • gastrointestinal malformations

Iniencephaly Outlook (Prognosis)

The prognosis for infants born with iniencephaly is extremely poor. Iniencephaly is almost always fatal, with the vast majority of babies born with the condition dying shortly after birth. The distortions of the baby’s body may also pose a danger to the mother’s life during delivery. However, there is usually no increased risk of recurrence in future pregnancies.

Parents of babies born with iniencephaly should be given adequate emotional support and counseled about recurrence risk, the need for folic acid supplementation and an early ultrasound scanning at 11 weeks during the next pregnancy, to prevent any delay in diagnosis of such lethal birth defects in the future.

Having a baby born with iniencephaly is a devastating and traumatizing experience for all parties involved. Medical and emotional costs associated with the condition can be overwhelming. Iniencephaly lawsuits can help families cope with the adverse side effects caused by dangerous antidepressant medications. If you or a loved one took SSRIs during pregnancy and gave birth to a baby with iniencephaly, an experienced birth defects lawyer can provide useful information regarding compensation and lawsuit options.

Is there a time limit in filing an iniencephaly lawsuit?

Although we encourage all our potential clients to take great care in selecting their iniencephaly lawyer, it is important that you understand that time is of the essence. The applicable statute of limitations in your state may time bar your claim. Furthermore, we are unable to provide you with legal advice without first evaluating your potential case. Accordingly, please take the time now to contact us by using the confidential email contact form below or by calling us toll free 24 hrs/day by dialing (866) 588-0600.

We hope we will be able to assist you with your potential iniencephaly birth defects lawsuit and look forward to speaking with you.


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