The neural tube of the fetus is the foundation of the central nervous system, as it eventually develops into the child's spinal cord and brain. A interruption in the development of the neural tube can cause severe and life-altering birth defects for a baby. A neural tube birth defect is a result of the tube failing to fuse which occurs as early as the second week of pregnancy. This will cause an opening in the vertebrae or skull from which the spinal cord or brain can protrude. Sometimes the defect is covered by a layer of skin and is referred to as a closed neural tube birth defect. Other times it is not; an open neural tube birth defect is characterized by the spinal cord or brain exposed to the outside environment at birth.
Neural tube defects can lead to serious nerve damage, partial or complete paralysis and even death. In the United States, one in every 1,000 live births is reported to have neural tube birth defects. The most frequent malformation is spina bifida, which is when the incomplete fusion of the neural tube causes an opening in the spinal column. Spina bifida cystica is the more severe type in which the spinal cord protrudes through and opening in the vertebrae and sometimes even through the skin of the child. Spina bifida occulta is also known as the hidden spina bifida and is a less serious type in which the spinal cord does not protrude through the spinal column. Most cases of spina bifida occulta can go undetected for months or years.
Anencephaly is the most tragic and fatal type of neural tube birth defect. Anencephaly is characterized by the absence of the cerebrum or other major parts of the brain and oftentimes the exposure of the brain tissue that is present. Infants who survive past birth are unconscious, deaf, blind, and unable to feel pain in most cases. Fetuses diagnosed with anencephaly also display other malformations including missing skull bones, folded ears, cleft palate, heart defects, and lack of reflexes. Babies with this diagnosis usually die during pregnancy or shortly after birth.
There are multiple factors that can cause a neural tube birth defect. Genetics and environmental factors can lead to a neural tube birth defect. Lack of folic acid is believed to be a major cause for these defects as well as the use of pharmaceutical medications, especially anticonvulsants during pregnancy. These drugs can interrupt the natural and healthy growth of a fetus and pose serious risks for the occurrence of birth defects. Unfortunately, some birth injuries such as neural tube birth defects occur when there is developmental interference during the first trimester of pregnancy meaning damage could be done before the mother even knows that she is pregnant.
Depending on the severity of the neural tube birth defect, the likely prognosis for an affected child can range from minor obstacles to major life-long treatment and even death. Since neural tube birth defects pertain to the development of the spinal cord and brain, a child with these malformations can experience difficulties with cognitive and physical growth. Complications associated with neural tube deformations include allergies, misshapen bones, stiff joints, muscle weakness, and lack of coordination. The medical and emotional costs of this type of birth injury can greatly and quickly burden a family.
Victims of birth injuries caused by defective drugs are not at fault. Pharmaceutical companies need to be held accountable for the potentially harmful side effects of their products. If you believe that your child has suffered a birth injury related to pharmaceutical drug use during pregnancy there is help available. Free legal claim reviews can help connect families with defective drug lawyers who can provide information regarding feasible compensation and lawsuit options. Birth injury side effects of taking prescribed, especially anticonvulsants while pregnant have lead to individual and class action lawsuits suing pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Spread the word so women are aware of the risks for both anticonvulsant birth defects and antidepressant birth defects and so families dealing with the hardship and expenses of lifetime care can get financial help from experienced class action attorneys. Learn more about Side Effects from prescription drugs.
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RX Birth Defects is an informational website that educates consumers on birth defects that could have been caused by drugs taken by the mother while pregnant. Most drugs have the most severe effect during the first trimester of pregnancy. Anticonvulsant and Antidepressant drugs include Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Pristiq, Prozac, Zoloft, Dilantin, Depakote and Topamax. This website has no relationship with any of the aforementioned drugs or pharmaceutical companies.