About Spina Bifida
Spina bifida is a congenital condition where the embryonic neural tube (the tissue that develops into the brain and spinal cord) does not properly close before birth. The most common type of spina bifida involves malformations near the lower back. After birth, the area can be surgically closed, but the child will not recover function to the injured area of the spinal cord. Research shows that folic acid, taken prenatally, can reduce the incidence of spina bifida by 70%. Additionally, it can reduce the severity of spina bifida when it does occur. Regardless, in the United States the incidence of spina bifida is 0.7 per 1,000 births.
Detection of Spina Bifida
Spina bifida is detectable by ultrasound. Those scans frequently show what is known as the “lemon sign” (concave frontal bones) and the “banana sign” (the cerebellum appears pulled and flattened). Clubfeet may be apparent, as is ventriculomegaly (a brain condition where the ventricles become dilated).
It is also detectable by testing the mother’s blood through an AFP screening, and by amniocentesis (examination of the fluid surrounding the baby).
Disability Because of Spina Bifida
A spina bifida diagnosis is not “one size fits all.” Rather, there are many different degrees of disability, based mostly on the level of the spinal lesion. The higher the lesion, the more physical problems the child is likely to have. Spina bifida can cause:
- Leg weakness or paralysis
- Bladder and bowel problems
- Abnormal eye movement
- Orthopedic problems, like scoliosis, club foot, and hip injuries
- Attention problems
- Impaired executive functions (problem-solving, planning, organizing)
Spina Bifida Lawsuits
There are several types of medical malpractice lawsuits that can arise when a child is born with spina bifida. Because spina bifida is frequently detectable by ultrasound, sonographers and radiologists may be liable for failing to observe signs of the condition. Even if they do detect signs of spina bifida, they may be liable for not communicating that information to the obstetrician, or the obstetrician may be liable for not communicating that information to the mother. These types of lawsuits, known as wrongful birth lawsuits seek to recover for the extraordinary cost of caring for a child with birth injuries. In a wrongful birth lawsuit, the parents state that they would have legally terminated the pregnancy had they known about the congenital defect. Wrongful birth lawsuits are permitted in just over half of the states.
If you have a child who was born with spina bifida, and your obstetrician or sonographer failed to detect it or failed to inform you about the problem, contact our birth injury lawyers at (855) 712-7818 or send us a confidential online message.
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