Neural tube defects are a class of rare congenital abnormalities that occur when a child is born with an opening in the brain or spinal cord. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that expecting mothers who take certain antidepressant or epilepsy drugs during pregnancy have an increased risk of giving birth to a baby with severe neural tube defects. Prescription medications associated with these abnormalities include SSRI antidepressants such as Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft, as well as antiepileptic drugs like Depakote and Depakene.
Neural Tube Defects Lawsuit Review: If you or somebody you know has a child who has been diagnosed with neural tube defects after being exposed to a prescription drug 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 neural tube defects?
The FDA has notified the public and medical communities about the increased risk of neural tube defects and other major congenital abnormalities in babies exposed to the following prescription medications during pregnancy (particularly during the first trimester, a time when many women may still be unaware they are pregnant):
- Paxil (paroxetine)
- Zoloft (sertraline)
- Celexa (citalopram)
- Prozac (fluoxetine)
- Lexapro (escitalopram)
- Symbyax (fluoxetine and olanzapine)
- Wellbutrin (bupropion)
- Effexor (venlafaxine)
- Depakote CP
- Depakote ER
- Depakene (valproic acid)
- Depacon (valproate sodium injection)
Healthcare providers should inform all patients of childbearing age about these risks, and to consider alternative courses of treatment (especially if the drugs are being taken to treat a non life-threatening condition). Females of childbearing potential should only consider the medications listed above if it is essential to their medical condition.
Neural Tube Defects Overview
Congenital neural tube defects are characterized by the improper formation of the neural tube, a narrow tube present during the early stages of fetal development which serves as the foundation for the baby’s central nervous system (CNS). These abnormalities tend to occur when the cells of the neural tube are unable to fuse together in the womb, resulting in an opening in the end of the fetal structure. Neural tube defects manifest themselves through an opening in the vertebrae or skull, which are responsible for protecting the spinal cord and brain.
Neural tube defects occur in about one in every 1,000 to 2,000 live births each year in the United States. Though the percentage is small, this figure still equals out to thousands of babies born with neural tube defects each and every year in our country. An estimated 95% of children with neural tube defects are born to parents with no family history of these problems.
Signs and Symptoms
Although the signs and symptoms of prescription drug-induced neural tube defects vary significantly from patient to patient, babies born with these types of congenital abnormalities may display the following symptoms:
- chronic allergies
- misshapen bones
- loss of sensation in parts of the body
- muscle weakness
- difficulty solving problems
- intellectual disability
- lack of coordination
- lack of concentration
- loss of bowel and bladder control
Types of Neural Tube Defects
- Spina Bifida: The most common form of neural tube defect, spina bifida results from the incomplete closure of the spine around the spinal cord. The severity of the defect ranges from few if any symptoms if the spinal cord is not protruding, to severe protrusion and accompanying neurological complications.
- Anencephaly: Potentially-fatal neural tube defect that occurs when the infant is born with only a partially-formed brain and spinal cord. Anencephaly is the second most commonly reported neural tube defect.
- Encephalocele: Catastrophic defect caused by the incomplete development of the skull, which results in a portion of the baby’s brain sticking out through a hole in the skull. Babies born with encephalocele have virtually no chance of survival beyond infancy.
Neural Tube Defect Prevention
Studies have shown that up to 75% of congenital neural tube defects can be prevented in children born to mothers who get a daily dose of folic acid. Because the neural tube forms during the first trimester of pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Public Health Service recommend that all women of childbearing age and potential take 0.4mg of folic acid everyday, either from their everyday diet or through nutritional supplements.
However, women who have had a previous neural tube defect pregnancy are recommended to take an even higher dosage of folic acid prior to becoming pregnant. Women in this situation should increase their daily dose of folic acid from 0.4mg to 4.0mg at least 30 days before conceiving through the end of the first trimester of pregnancy. The increased dose of folic acid should be obtained through a prescription from a doctor.
Is there a time limit in filing a neural tube defects lawsuit?
Although we encourage all our potential clients to take great care in selecting their neural tube defects 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 neural tube birth defects lawsuit and look forward to speaking with you.
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