Neural Tube Defetcs
Written by Andrew Sarski on January 8, 2011
Forms of Neural Tube Malformation and Birth Defects
Neural tube birth injuries are one of the most common birth defects, occurring in one in every 1,000 births in the United States. The most common of this type of malformation is spina bifida, a defect characterized by an opening in the spinal column due to the incomplete closure of the neural tube. In more severe cases, as in spina bifida cystica, the spinal cord may actually be exposed through the vertebrae and skin of the child’s back. In less serious cases, as in spina bifida occulta, the defect is typically covered by skin and will likely go undetected. Neural tube defects can cause major nerve damage, as well as paralysis and even death.
One of the most severe and fatal forms of neural tube birth injury is anencephaly, in which an affected child is born without a large part of the brain or cerebral hemispheres. The remaining brain tissue is often exposed, not covered by the skull or skin. Infants born with anencephaly are typically blind, deaf, unconscious, and unable to feel pain. Anencephaly is often accompanied by folded ears, missing bones around the front and back of the skull, cleft palate, lack of reflexes, and congenital heart defects. Without a functioning cerebrum, children with this condition are unable to ever gain consciousness and anencephaly usually results in stillbirth or death shortly after birth.
Causes of Neural Tube Birth Defects
There are a number of causes of neural tube birth injuries, one of the most frequent being the use of pharmaceutical drugs, like anticonvulsant medications, during pregnancy. These drugs can interfere with the normal development of a fetus, compromising the integrity of the child’s vital body systems. The use of these medications while pregnant may result in congenital abnormalities in children exposed to them, and sometimes even death. Neural tube birth injuries occur in the primary stages of fetal development, which means a person taking anticonvulsant medications may be inflicting serious harm upon their unborn child before they even know that they are pregnant.
Neural Tube Birth Defect Medical Complications
Neural tube birth defects can cause life-long complications for an affected child, if not death. These malformations create gaps in the protective layers of the brain and spinal cord, potentially interfering with the brain’s development and leaving the spinal cord vulnerable to catastrophic damage. The extent of the side effects experienced by a child with a neural tube defect will depend upon the location and severity of the malformation. Birth defects are one of the leading causes of infant mortality in the United States. If the defect is not fatal, these malformations can affect the quality of life of a child permanently. Children who suffer from a neural tube birth injury may be faced with difficulties in cognitive and physical development, learning and movement. Other complications related to this type of malformation include muscle weakness, allergies, lack of concentration, misshapen bones, lack of coordination, difficulty reading and stiff joints.
Lawsuits for Neural Tube Birth Defects and Drug Injury Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a neural tube birth injury and pharmaceuticals are believed to be the cause, you should contact a qualified attorney immediately. Many cases of pharmaceutical-related birth injuries have resulted in class action lawsuits. You may be entitled to reimbursement for damages and an experienced lawyer can help you receive the compensation you deserve.