New Jersey Spina Bifida Lawyers for Victims of Failure to Test, Diagnose, & Treat Neural Tube Defects
Your baby was born with spina bifida, a birth condition that occurs when the neural tubes in a fetus’s spine do not close completely, leading to spinal malformations and damage, as well as possible nerve damage to the nerves of the spine. This disorder arises in the early weeks of pregnancy but may not become apparent until birth or later in childhood if it is not discovered sooner by testing. Fortunately, spina bifida can be tested for during pregnancy through various testing methods, providing parents with much-needed time to digest their child’s diagnosis and plan accordingly. Depending on the specific type of spina bifida affecting a child, they may require extensive treatments and therapies in both the near and long-term. Children with this condition often experience a vast array of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. Whether somewhat challenging or entirely debilitating, your baby deserves a chance at their best life. This underscores the need for proper prenatal and medical care before, during, and after the child is born.
After your child’s neural tube defect diagnosis, seeking sound legal counsel who can advise and assist you with your potential claim is extremely important. If your obstetrician failed to discuss this birth defect with you, advise you about preventative measures, or prenatally test for spina bifida, thereby depriving you of options to terminate your pregnancy or otherwise prepare yourself for your child’s condition, you may have grounds for a wrongful birth action. Contact our team of New Jersey spina bifida lawyers today at (866)-708-8617 discuss your case and your options. Consultations are free and available immediately to best serve your needs.
Spina Bifida Causes and Risk Factors
The underlying causes of spina bifida are unclear, but there are precautionary measures to reduce the risks, such as taking high doses of folic acid before and during pregnancy. Low levels of folate, an essential vitamin, is one of the leading risk factors for spina bifida. In fact, obstetricians routinely prescribe prenatal folic acid for those planning pregnancies. This is especially important for a woman who has a family history of neural tube defects or who has given birth to other children who had them. A doctor might also advise an obese or diabetic woman planning to become pregnant, or one who recently became pregnant, that her baby may be more susceptible to spina bifida due to those two conditions. Other risk factors for spina bifida include taking anti-seizure medications or becoming overheated during pregnancy, particularly in the first few weeks.
Signs of Spina Bifida
Children born with spina bifida may suffer physically and cognitively from various impairments. The severity and specificity of the symptoms depend largely upon the spinal opening’s location and size, as well as the nerves damaged. Notably, spina bifida occurs in three distinct types, which are as follows:
- Myelomeningocele: nerve damage that occurs when the fluid sac containing the nerves bulges through the backbone
- Meningocele: a spinal fluid sac bulge through the backbone with minimal or without nerve damage
- Spina bifida occulta: a small space on the spine and not a spinal opening
Myelomeningocele is the most severe type of spina bifida, potentially causing paralysis in the legs; hydrocephalus, or swelling on the brain; and problems evacuating the bowels and kidneys. Meningocele causes less severe problems, and spina bifida occulta does not drastically affect the child, often appearing later in life. When a newborn’s back appears with a hairy patch or dimple, these are both potential signs of the condition and generally indicate the need for further testing.
Testing for Spina Bifida and Neural Tube Defects
The two more severe forms of spina bifida afflicting children, myelomeningocele and meningocele, may be diagnosed with prenatal screening. One such spina bifida test called alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), identifies fetal protein found in a pregnant woman’s blood tests. This test is typically performed approximately 15 to 20 weeks into pregnancy, and can indicate spina bifida if high protein levels appear. Ultrasounds also show spina bifida, as does amniocentesis. Amniocentesis is a needle extraction of amniotic fluid used for testing. In addition, postpartum tests can be used to detect spina bifida, including X-ray, MRI, or CT scans. Spina bifida occulta may only be diagnosed later in childhood, adulthood, or possibly never depending on the specific case.
How is Spina Bifida Treated?
Once detected, treating the particular symptoms is the optimal course to improve your baby’s life. Since spina bifida affects children differently, treatment should be customized to each patient’s symptoms. For example, surgery to close the hole, to place a shunt in the brain to drain excess fluid from hydrocephalus, to place a catheter for urination, or to repair a tethered or unanchored spinal cord, may be some options. Another treatment for children affected by weakness or paralysis of the legs is physical therapy or physical activity, depending on the severity of symptoms. Moreover, dietary recommendations, such as added fiber foods, may help with bowel control problems. Skincare is also important. Skin sensation loss can lead to further complications, such as bleeding and bruising that the child does not notice, or infected skin pressure sores from lying on one side of the body too long. These require sanitary care and vigilance to prevent illness or death from sepsis, a deadly infection.
Call Spina Bifida Negligence Attorneys in NJ to Discuss Your Child’s Case
If your child has been diagnosed with spina bifida or another birth defect in New Jersey, it is imperative to discover more about your rights. If a medical professional delivered negligent care through inadequate testing, missed diagnosis, or substandard treatment, all of these failures are possible triggers for a medical malpractice lawsuit. A successful claim may provide resources to fund the many medical and therapeutic treatments targeting the array of symptoms your child may suffer from. Find out how to seek compensation, not only for the past and future costs for your child’s medical care and treatment, but for other damages resulting from your child’s injury or wrongful birth, by contacting us. An attorney is prepared to provide you with a free consultation anytime. Call (866)-708-8617 now.