Neural Tube Defects
Neural tube defects are a class of birth defects that occur when a child is born with an opening in the brain or spinal cord. The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning that women who use the antiepilepsy drug Depakote during pregnancy are four times more likely to give birth to a child with neural tube defects than users of other drugs that treat epilepsy.
The two most common types of neural tube defects are spina bifida and anencephaly. Spina bifida is a condition in which the tube that forms the spine and spinal cord does not close completely. This can cause nerve paralysis below the affected area of the spine, leading to problems with walking or controlling excretory functions. Some cases of spina bifida may be fatal.
Anencephaly occurs when the top portion of the neural tube does not fully close, leading to a partial or complete absence of the brain or skull. Because of the severity of anencephaly, children born with this condition rarely survive for more than a few hours after being born.
The majority of neural tube defects can be detected during pregnancy using blood tests, ultrasound or amniocentesis. Treatment options for neural tube defects vary widely depending on the severity of a child’s side effects, ranging from mild treatments such as physical therapy to more complex treatments, such as surgery.
Studies have found that 50-70% of neural tube defects can be prevented among pregnant women who get a daily dose of folic acid, both for those who did or did not use Depakote. Because the neural tube forms during the first four weeks of pregnancy—before most women know they are pregnant—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Public Health Service recommend that all women of childbearing age get 400 micrograms of folic acid everyday, either in their normal diet or through vitamin supplements.
If you or a loved one took the antiepilepsy drug Depakote while pregnant and gave birth to a child with spina bifida, anencephaly or other neural tube defects, you may qualify to file a lawsuit. For a free legal consultation, contact the lawyers at Hissey Kientz, LLP by calling 1-866-275-4454, or by filling out the free case evaluation form located on this page.