Spina bifida is a neural tube birth defect occurring when the bones of the spine, or the vertebrae, do not form properly around part of the baby's spinal cord. If the malformation is minor, it may be called spina bifida occulta, which is often only signaled by a birthmark or small patch of hair at the site of the defect. The more severe form of the malformation is called spina bifida cystica, in which part of the spinal nerves push out of the spinal canal, encased in a fluid-filled cyst on the child's back. In babies born with spina bifida cystica, the spinal cord nerves are often damaged, resulting in problems with walking, coordination, and bladder or bowel control. The exact cause of spina bifida is unknown, although researchers have found a possible connection between the use of certain pharmaceutical drugs, particularly anticonvulsants, by a mother in pregnancy and the development of spina bifida in the child. If you took a medication while pregnant and your child was born with spina bifida, contact a birth defect attorney today, as your child may be entitled to lifetime care.
The symptoms associated with spina bifida vary depending on the severity of the birth defect. The more mild form of the malformation, spina bifida occulta, is also the most common, and often causes little to no problems. In fact, some children born with spina bifida occulta may live their entire lives without ever being diagnosed with the birth defect. Spina bifida cystica on the other hand, typically results in easily recognizable symptoms, especially if the spinal nerves are exposed. Children born with spina bifida cystica may suffer from nerve damage that affects daily living. They may have little or no feeling in the arms, legs or feet, and they may not be able to move those parts of the body. Babies with severe spina bifida may also be born with hydrocephalus, or a build up of fluid in the brain, which can cause seizures, vision problems and intellectual disability.
Again, the appropriate treatment for spina bifida depends on how severe the birth defect is. Children with mild forms of spina bifida may not need treatment, while more severe forms of the malformation typically require surgery. Unfortunately, the complications associated with spina bifida may persist throughout the child's life, making physical therapy and the use of a wheelchair, leg braces, or other aids necessary. Most children born with spina bifida cystica benefit from lifelong medical care to monitor their development and treat any additional neurological, physical or intellectual complications that may arise.
Spina bifida can be a devastating birth defect, and the associated complications can persist throughout the child's life. If you or a loved one has suffered from spina bifida and you believe a pharmaceutical drug to be the cause, contact a birth defect attorney immediately. You may have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor or hospital charged with your care, in order to pursue financial compensation for your injuries, medical bills, and pain and suffering. Healthcare providers are responsible for the safety of their patients and should take great care in protecting pregnant women from potentially dangerous medications. Unfortunately, poorly trained, negligent or simply distracted medical professionals can cause serious harm to patients, possibly resulting in irreversible birth defects in their children. With the help of a qualified birth defect lawyer, you can protect your legal rights and seek fair and timely reimbursement.