An increase in birth defects like spina bifida has recently been linked to a number of popular medications. The potentially serious side effects of many of these drugs has been a controversial topic for years. Women who took any of the medications listed in this article during the first trimester of pregnancy and had a baby born with spina bifida or other birth defect should discuss their legal options by contacting the lawyers at Schmidt & Clark, LLP.
Free Confidential Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has given birth to a child with spina bifida, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit and our lawyers can help.
Spina Bifida: An Overview
Spina bifida is a rare but extremely serious congenital (present at birth) neural tube defect characterized by the failure of the backbone and spinal cord to close before birth. The term spina bifida comes from Latin and literally means "split" or "open" spine. The condition typically occurs in the first trimester of pregnancy, when the two sides of the embryo’s spine fail to join together. The three main types of spina bifida include:
- Myelomeningocele - The most serious form of spina bifida, myelomeningocele occurs when the bones of the vertebrae don’t form properly, which allows a small sac to extend through an opening in the spine. The sac contains cerebrospinal fluid and tissues that protect the spinal cord, and may be opened up either before birth or during the birth process.
- Spina bifida occulta - Occurring in 10% to 20% of otherwise healthy children, spina bifida occulta occurs when the bones of the spine fail to close but the spinal cord and meninges remain in place.
- Meningoceles - Condition in which the spinal cord develops normally but the system of membranes that envelop the central nervous system (meninges) protrude from a spinal opening.
Which Antidepressants Have Been Linked to Spina Bifida?
The following antidepressants are linked to the development of spina bifida in newborn babies, infants, and children if their mothers took them while pregnant:
- Prozac (Fluoxetine)
- Lexapro (Escitalopram)
- Symbyax (fluoxetine and olanzapine)
- Wellbutrin (Bupropion)
Depakote and Spina Bifida
In 2010, European researchers published the results of a meta-analysis whose findings indicate that use of the anti-seizure medication Depakote (divalproex sodium and valproic acid) during pregnancy increases the risk of spina bifida by up to 12-fold in babies exposed to the drug in the womb. Spina bifida is a severe defect of the spine in which part of the spinal cord and its meninges are exposed through a gap in the backbone.
Spina Bifida & Painkillers
According to a new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, expecting mothers who take over-the-counter NSAID painkillers have an increased risk of having babies born with clubfoot. A baby’s risk of being born with clubfoot was found to be three times higher if their mothers had taken NSAIDs while pregnant. Painkillers associated with clubfoot include:
- Naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan and Naprosyn)
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
- Rofecoxib (Vioxx)
- Celecoxib (Celebrex)
- Diclofenac (Cataflam)
- Diclofenac and Misoprostol (Arthrotec)
- Nabumetone (Relafen)
Spina Bifida Treatment
Unfortunately, there is currently no known cure for spina bifida. However, surgical procedures can be performed within the first few days of life to close the defect and to prevent infection or further trauma. In addition, doctors have recently begun performing fetal surgery for treatment of spina bifida. This complex procedure, which is performed in the womb, involves opening the mother's abdomen and uterus and sewing shut the opening over the developing baby's spinal cord.
Do I have a Spina Bifida Lawsuit?
The Defective Drug & Products Liability Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in antidepressant birth defects lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new spina bifida cases in all 50 states.
Free Case Evaluation: Again, if you or a loved one has a child with spina bifida, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.