Written by Andrew Sarski on January 8, 2011
Hydranencephaly Birth Defects
Hydranencephaly is a rare neural tube birth defect occurring in approximately one in 10,000 births annually. This malformation causes a child to be born without cerebral hemispheres, replaced instead by sacs filled with cerebrospinal fluid. Despite the absence of the hemispheres however, the brainstem, cerebellum and other central nervous system tissues may remain intact. Some cases of hydranencephaly may not be diagnosed until some time after birth, since many affected children display no immediate symptoms of the condition. Often, the child’s head size and spontaneous reflexes like sucking, swallowing and crying may appear normal. In other instances, the child may have a distorted skull and abnormal facial features due to the buildup of pressure inside the skull.
Detection and Symptoms of Hydranencephaly Defects
Whether a child with hydranencephaly shows symptoms at birth or not, infants with this condition will become irritable and show signs of increased muscle tone within weeks of birth. After a few months, the child’s condition will decline, experiencing seizures, hydrocephalus, lack of growth, hearing impairment, blindness, respiratory problems and paralysis. Children with hydranencephaly typically do not live past their first birthday; if they do, they will likely struggle with severe health complications throughout that time. There is currently no cure for hydranencephaly, although supportive treatments like physical therapy and the administration of medications can help maintain the comfort of the child. Any other treatments are experimental in nature and currently have no significant impact on life expectancy.
Hydranencephaly is often diagnosed in utero using ultrasound technology, but unfortunately, there is no surgical procedure that can be performed to correct the condition in the fetus. Otherwise the condition can be diagnosed after birth using cranial ultrasonography to detect the absence of cerebral tissue. Some of the causes of hydranencephaly include genetic defects, an infection of the blood vessels, or trauma occurring after the twelfth week of pregnancy. One of the recurring causes of this defect is maternal use of pharmaceutical drugs, particularly anticonvulsant medications, while pregnant. These drugs have the potential to disrupt fetal development during the formation of critical organs like the brain, resulting in severe malformations and life-threatening birth injuries.
Hydranencephaly Lawsuits and Defective Drug Attorneys
Many cases of birth injuries associated with the use of pharmaceutical drugs have led to class action lawsuits. Defective drugs can cause serious side effects, including catastrophic birth defects in children, and even death. Any potential treatment for a child with hydranencephaly will likely be extensive and costly. If you or a loved one has suffered from a birth injury and pharmaceuticals are believed to be the cause, contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible. You may be entitled to reimbursement for damages and an experienced lawyer can help you collect the compensation you deserve.