Chicago Spina Bifida Lawsuit Lawyers
Spina Bifida means "open spine" and is a neural tube defect (NTD) that occurs when the neural tube fails to properly develop during pregnancy. Of all birth defects involving the neural tube, this is the most common. During the first month of pregnancy, this structure normally develops into the brain and spinal cord. The spine is intended to protect the bundle of nerves running through the center of the back so that the brain can properly communicate with the rest of the body. But sometimes when the neural tube does not form correctly, an opening or gap is left somewhere along the spine.
SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) medications prescribed and taken during pregnancy, such as Zoloft, Celexa, Prozac, or Lexapro, may have been the cause of these serious congenital injuries. Spina bifida is usually detectable by ultrasound and other prenatal tests. As such, a failure to perform proper diagnostic testing may be a basis for a lawsuit. As a parent, if your child had this condition during pregnancy, you should have been informed as such, so that you were in a position to make intelligent choices at the time.
If your child was born with spina bifida, there may be legal options available to you. Contact the Chicago spina bifida lawyers of Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC at (312) 644-0444 for a free legal consultation.
Types of Spina Bifida
There are four basic types of spina bifida. Depending upon the type, this birth defect may affect the spinal cord, brain, spine and meninges (tissues protecting and covering the spinal cord and brain) differently. They include:
- Closed neural tube defect: The bone, meninges, or fat surrounding the spinal cord does not form correctly and some babies have bowel or bladder control problems as a result.
- Spina bifida occulta: Often referred to as "hidden spina bifida," this is the mildest of the forms and usually has few associated health problems.
- Myelomeningocele: The most severe form of spina bifida, often referred to as "open spina bifida," where the spinal cord is pushed out along with the meninges through a spinal gap and forms a sac on the back. Nerves and spinal cord are usually damaged with resulting paralysis and danger of infections, which may be life-threatening.
- Meningocele: The rarest form of spina bifida, the meninges is pushed out through the spinal gap into a fluid-filled sac called the meningocelle, but there is not usually much damage to the nerves.
Medical Malpractice Claims for Spina Bifida
As is the case with most birth defects, the cause is often considered to be unknown or due to genetic factors. But we also know that sometimes, a doctor may fail in his or her medical responsibility to protect the fetus, or to offer prompt diagnosis and correct treatment for the condition. When this happens and injury results, a claim for medical malpractice may be the best path to justice.
A doctor’s first responsibility to the mother and fetus is to "do no harm." In the context of spina bifida, this usually means that that the doctor should avoid prescribing drugs or medicines that may negatively impact the formation of the neural tube. Also, the mother must be properly warned of the possible serious side effects. Some drugs that have been linked to neural tube defects like spina bifida include:
- Accutane prescribed for severe acne
- Anticonvulsants prescribed for seizures, bipolar disorder, and migraines
- Antidepressants, especially SSRI types such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Celexa
- Contraceptives and birth control pills
- Antimetabolic drugs
Sometimes a birth defect like spina bifida may have been influenced by the prenatal care of a doctor and as a result, medical malpractice may have occurred.
Other times, medical negligence may result from a failure of the radiologist or doctor to promptly and properly diagnose the abnormality during pregnancy. Typically, an ultrasound or AFP screening can disclose the existence of this abnormality. But if proper testing is not done, doctors cannot fully inform the parents about the condition or create a proper medical treatment plan. Surgery is often performed on babies with spina bifida. In some circumstances, surgery is even performed in utero (before birth). If the birth defect is not diagnosed promptly, the opportunity for such a surgery may be lost. Although very personal, parents may be deprived of an opportunity to re-evaluate whether they wish to continue or terminate the pregnancy. This type of claim is called a "wrongful birth" or "wrongful life" claim.
Legal Help for Chicago and Across Illinois
In any event, it is the legal and medical responsibility of doctors, nurses, and hospitals to offer the very best care available. If you believe that your family has been harmed due to medical negligence, contact a Chicago medical malpractice attorney at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC for free information. Millions of dollars have been collected for our deserving families to help assist in the care of their children.
Keep in mind that it’s not necessary for you to be certain that an error occurred for you to call. Most people do not have the technical knowledge to really know. Even if you only suspect that there might have been an error, call now. There is no charge to discuss your concerns with an experienced birth injury attorney. Our 24-hour phone number is (800) 996-4824.