Skeletal birth defects are congenital malformations that are present at birth and can affect the development of a child’s limbs, digits or skull. The two most prevalent types of skeletal defects are limb abnormalities and skull abnormalities. Defects of the limbs include:
Syndactyly occurs when two fingers are fused together while polydactyly is the presence of extra fingers or toes. Club foot is characterized by a front part of the foot that turns toward the inside of the heel. Congenital hip dislocation occurs when the hip and thigh bone are underdeveloped, resulting in the dislocation of the hip. Cleft hand or cleft foot is characterized by a separation between the third and fourth finger or toe which extends down into the hand or foot. While some of these conditions may not require treatment, surgery is usually recommended in order to repair the malformation.
Defects of the skull are often a result of neural tube birth injuries, which can affect the development of the brain and its protective shield. Some of the most common skull defects include:
Anencephaly is characterized by the absence of a major part of the brain and an underdeveloped cerebrum, which affects the child’s movement, thinking and senses. Children with anencephaly are typically born blind, deaf and unconscious, with little hope of survival. Encephalocele is a condition in which parts of the brain, enclosed in a sac, protrude through an opening in the skull. Most infants with encephalocele suffer from other brain malformations as well as neurological problems. Microcephaly occurs when a child is born with an abnormally small brain and skull. This condition often leads to seizures and mental retardation. While most instances of limb abnormalities can be corrected with surgery and physical therapy, skull abnormalities present much more severe complications or even death for an affected child.
One of the most prevalent causes of skeletal defects is the use of pharmaceutical medications, namely anticonvulsant drugs, during pregnancy. These drugs severely interrupt the normal process of fetal development, resulting in major birth malformations and even death. Because a fetus’ skeletal structure and brain are developed so early on in the process, a woman who takes pharmaceuticals may cause significant harm to her unborn child before she even knows that she is pregnant. If you or a loved one has suffered from a skeletal defect and pharmaceuticals are believed to be the cause, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Many cases of pharmaceutical-related birth injuries have led to class action lawsuits. You may be entitled to reimbursement for your injuries and an experienced lawyer can help you collect the compensation you deserve.