Spina bifida is a widely known birth defect. While years ago it was always a sad surprise for the expectant parents, spina bifida can now be diagnosed prenatally, giving parents the option of terminating the pregnancy. Though there are many types of spina bifida, some more severe than others, it is always a troubling medical condition, often resulting in multiple complications and surgeries and a shortened lifespan.
If you are the parent of an infant with spina bifida and were never adequately prenatally tested, never informed properly about their results, or never warned to take certain steps to lessen your risk, you may well be able to file a viable wrongful birth lawsuit against your obstetrician and/or another involved healthcare professional. Nagel Rice LLP, a premium medical malpractice law firm with offices in Manhattan and Roseland, New Jersey, has built its reputation on a combination of in-depth legal knowledge, negotiation and litigation skills, and well-focused attention to individual client needs.
We have won over a billion dollars for our clients and will fight hard to win compensatory damages for you and your family. We know all too well that money will never take away the anguish of having a child with disabilities who is destined to bear far too much pain, but it will make the life of your family easier to manage and free of the financial stress that comes with exorbitant medical bills and related expenses.
What exactly is spina bifida?
Spina bifida, a neural tube defect, occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t develop normally so that the baby’s brain and spinal cord are not properly enclosed by surrounding tissue. This birth defect commonly causes partial or complete paralysis of the legs due to damage of nerves in the spinal cord. Children who are able to walk with spina bifida typically require assistive devices such as leg braces or crutches.
Types of Spina Bifida
There are a number of types of spina bifida:
- Occulta, the least severe type, occurs when the spinal cord is protected only by skin and not the hard column of vertebrae
- Closed neural tube defect, slightly more severe than occulta, includes a spectrum of neural tube defects in which bone, fat, or membranes that normally protect the spinal cord are displaced
- Meningocele affects the spinal fluid (meninges) rather than the neural tube
- Myelomeningocele occurs when an opening in the spine exposes the spinal cord itself
Myelomeningocele is the most severe and disabling type of spina bifida since the spinal cord is exposed to amniotic fluid in the womb. This frequently has terrible consequences, such as complete paralysis, incontinence, and sensory deficits.
Risk Factors for Spina Bifida
All healthcare professionals should know, and communicate to all pregnant patients, that the following factors increase the chances of having a baby with spina bifida:
- Having a family member with a neural tube defect
- Having previously had a baby with spina bifida*
- Not ingesting enough folic acid during the early weeks of pregnancy
- Taking certain antidepressants (SSRIs) such as Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor, and Wellbutrin
- Taking anti-seizure medications like Depakote
*If you have previously borne a child with spina bifida, your risk skyrockets to 1 in 25.
If your doctor has failed to screen you for a heightened risk of bearing an infant with spina bifida, failed to administer or perform prenatal testing, or misreported information about this severe birth defect, Nagel Rice will do whatever it takes to win you the substantial compensation you and your family deserve.
Symptoms an Infant Born with Spina Bifida May Exhibit Include:
- Chiari malformation type II: brain abnormality affecting breathing and swallowing
- Tethered spinal cord: spinal nerves bound to the scar from the surgical correction
- Sleep-disordered breathing, such as sleep apnea
- Skin problems: wounds and sores that may become deep infected wounds
- Latex allergy which is more common in children with spina bifida
- Bowel and bladder problems and gastrointestinal disorders
- Depression and/or learning disabilities
- Scoliosis, joint deformities, muscle contractures
- Hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and/or seizures
The likelihood of complications is increased in babies with myelomeningocele spina bifida.
What Nagel Rice Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Do for You
Medical malpractice is defined as negligence, meaning deviation from the standard duty of care. In order to be held responsible for your child’s wrongful birth, the accused healthcare professional or institution must be the direct cause of injury to the patient. The highly capable wrongful birth attorneys at Nagel Rice are well-prepared to evaluate your case in terms of its likelihood to have a successful legal outcome. We will only take you on as a client if we are convinced that we can win your damages. You will owe us no attorneys’ fees until we do. The fault may lie with your obstetrician, radiologist, lab technician or with protocol not followed by the hospital or healthcare facility. At Nagel Rice, we work under the principle that whoever is responsible for the wrongful birth and your family’s suffering must be held accountable.
Prenatal Tests for Spina Bifida
If your obstetrician failed to recommend prenatal tests for spina bifida, or if these tests were incorrectly administered, interpreted, or reported to you, we may very well be able to help you file a viable lawsuit. There are several ways of testing for spina bifida prenatally, including:
- Blood tests of the mother’s blood to detect abnormally high levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) which suggest that the fetus has a neural tube defect and tests to confirm this
- Ultrasound scan to produce images showing whether the fetus has spina bifida and, if so, the severity of the defect
- Amniocentesis, during which a sample of amniotic fluid is removed, will show whether the excessive AFP in the maternal blood has leaked into the amniotic sac
There is a slight risk to the pregnancy as a result of amniocentesis, so the pros and cons of the test have to be weighed carefully.
At Nagel Rice We Are Compassionate as Well as Eminently Qualified
Contact us so we can discuss the specifics of your case. We know you are enduring terrible challenges and the pain of watching your baby suffer. Our job is to fight to win you damages for medical expenses, long-term disabilities, loss of income while you care for your baby, and ongoing pain and suffering. Call us as soon as you can. We genuinely want to help.