Health Experts Concerned About “Bizarre” Cluster of Neural Tube Birth Defects in Washington

Spike in Neural Tube Birth Defect Rates

Written by Faith Anderson on February 19, 2014
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Health Experts Concerned About “Bizarre” Cluster of Neural Tube Birth Defects in Washington

A spike in birth defect rates affecting a three-county area of rural Washington state has health experts stumped as to the potential cause of the devastating malformations.

A mysterious spike in major birth defects reported in Washington state has stumped health experts, who say they can find no cause for the “bizarre” cluster of neural tube malformations, even as reports of new cases continue to rise. In September 2013, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced its decision to conduct an investigation into an inexplicable influx of birth defect reports in Yakima, Franklin and Benton counties in Washington state, and while investigators say that have failed to determine what could be causing the birth defects, critics argue that the investigators could have done more. If your child was born with a neural tube defect or another devastating birth defect you believe to related to a dangerous medication or environmental factor, contact our consumer advocates at the Consumer Justice Foundation to speak to a qualified attorney today.

Spina Bifida and Anencephaly Birth Defects

Federal and state officials won’t divulge how many women in the area in question have given birth to babies with devastating neural tube birth defects like spina bifida, but, as of January 2013, reports put the rate of congenital malformations at about two dozen cases in three years, which is roughly four times the national average. Since that time, Susie Ball of the Central Washington Genetics Program at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital says she has reported eight or nine additional cases of spina bifida and anencephaly – a severe birth defect in which affected babies are born missing parts of the skull or brain. Despite this disturbing trend, the CDC never actually did any physical investigation in the affected area, no mothers or local doctors were interviewed, and many mothers whose babies were born with birth defects say they were never alerted to a potential problem in the area.

What are Neural Tube Birth Defects?

Concerns about the cluster of birth defects in Washington were first raised in August 2012, after an excessively high number of babies in the three-county area were born with anencephaly, one of a group of birth defects known as neural tube malformations, which usually occur during the first trimester of pregnancy. Neural tube birth defects typically occur in about one in every 1,000 births in the United States, and are characterized by an opening in the brain or spinal cord caused by the failure of the neural tube to close properly during fetal development. This hole in the neural tube can result in life-altering birth defects like spina bifida and malformations that result in parts of the brain being absent or protruding from the skull at birth.

Contact an Experienced Attorney for Legal Help

According to a CDC report issued last summer, which included cases of 27 women with pregnancies that resulted in neural tube birth defects in Franklin, Yakima and Benton counties between 2010 and 2013, there were 23 cases of anencephaly, three cases of spina bifida and one with encephalocele – characterized by a sac-like protrusion through the back or front of the baby’s skull. Although the exact causes of neural tube defects are unknown, one factor most commonly associated with a potential increased risk of these birth defects is exposure of the baby to certain pharmaceutical drugs, such as the anticonvulsant Depakote in early pregnancy. If you believe your child has been adversely affected by side effects of a dangerous pharmaceutical drug, contact an experienced product liability lawyer today to explore your possible compensation options.

[box type=”note” align=”aligncenter” ]Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/bizarre-cluster-severe-birth-defects-haunts-health-experts-n24986[/box]

Posted Under: Birth Defects, Drugs During Pregnancy, Neural Tube Defects, News, United States
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