Spina Bifida Birth Defect Lawyers: Antidepressant and Anti-Seizure Drugs

Spina bifida is the most common neural tube birth defect in the United States.  In numerous scientific studies, this devastating birth defect has been linked to the use of some medications during the first trimester of pregnancy.  Specifically, anti-seizure medications and SSRI antidepressants have been linked with a higher rate of spina bifida birth defects.

In many cases, women who gave birth to a baby with spina bifida after taking a dangerous medication during pregnancy were not adequately warned of the risks associated with these prescription drugs.  If you took an anti-seizure or antidepressant medication during pregnancy and gave birth to a child with spina bifida, you may be entitled to significant compensation in a dangerous medication lawsuit.

Call us at 1-888-554-2889 to speak to a spina bifida lawyer personally. We offer:

  • A free, no-obligation case evaluation with a spina bifida attorney
  • No fee unless we win your case
  • Flexible appointments
  • Home and hospital visits

What is Spina Bifida?

Spina bifida, literally translated as “split spine”, occurs when the spinal column does not completely close in a developing baby, affecting the sacral and lumbar regions of the spine.  This is the most common birth defect that causes life-long disability. 

Babies born with spina bifida have abnormalities of the spine, the spinal cord, and the coverings of the spinal cord.  Spina bifida is not always fatal, but it is incurable.  Spina bifida babies often require extensive, life-long care and may face such problems as:

  • Paralysis
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Bladder incontinence
  • Altered skin sensation
  • Difficulty walking
  • Obesity
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Mental and social problems
  • Depression
  • Learning disabilities

The prevention of infection and the reduction of neurological damage are the main goals of spina bifida treatment.  Surgery is often conducted on spina bifida babies at a very early age, sometimes in utero.  Later in life, spina bifida patients may undergo surgery for shunting to treat hydrocephalus.

Antidepressants and Spina Bifida Birth Defect

SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) antidepressants help patients by restoring the balance of serotonin in the brain, bringing relief from depression and some mood disorders.  Use of SSRI antidepressants during the first trimester of pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of spina bifida and other neural tube birth defects in a number of antidepressant side effect studies

Antidepressants that fall into the SSRI category that may lead to a higher risk of spina bifida birth defects include:

  • Prozac (fluoxetine) manufactured by Eli Lilly
  • Zoloft (sertraline hydrochloride) manufactured by Pfizer
  • Celexa (citalopram) manufactured by Forest Labs
  • Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) manufactured by Wyeth
  • Lexapro (escitalopram) manufactured by Forest Labs
  • Effexor (venlafaxine) manufactured by Wyeth

Anti-Seizure Drugs and Spina Bifida Birth Defect

A recent FDA study found that the risk of the average woman giving birth to a baby with spina bifida is roughly 1-in-1,500.  The risk of a mother who used an epilepsy drug during her first trimester of pregnancy giving birth to a child with spina bifida is 1-in-20.  The release of these study-based statistics prompted the FDA to add more stringent warnings about the risk of spina bifida birth defects from Tegretol and other valproate anti-seizure medications in late 2010.  In addition to Tegretol, the following anti-seizure medications have been linked to an increased risk of spina bifida:

  • Depakote
  • Depacon
  • Depakine
  • Stavzor
  • Carbatrol
  • Epitol
  • Equetrol

Other birth defects associated with valproate anti-seizure medications include cleft lip, cleft palate, malformed limbs, abnormal skull development, urinary tract problems, and holes in the heart.

Many pregnant women who have epilepsy do not have the option of discontinuing anti-seizure drugs.  Still, doctors are cautioned by the FDA to carefully weigh the risks associated with these drugs against the benefits they provide.  In some cases, a safer alternative epilepsy drug may be prescribed to women of childbearing age.

Contact a Spina Bifida Birth Defect Lawyer

Spina bifida is a very serious medical condition that often requires a lifetime of costly medical care and treatment.  If your child was born with spina bifida or a neural tube birth defect after his mother took an anti-seizure medication or an SSRI antidepressant during pregnancy, you may be entitled to significant compensation in a dangerous drug lawsuit.  While there is no way to compensate for the compromised health of your child, dangerous medication lawsuit compensation can relieve the financial burden that is the result of medical and therapeutic care.  The spina bifida birth defect lawyers at our firm are dedicated to pursuing justice on behalf of victims of birth defects caused by antidepressants and anti-seizure medications.  Contact a personal injury lawyer today for a free review of your claim and a candid discussion of your legal options.

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