Spina bifida is a congenital condition that can cause paralysis and a number of other challenges in your child’s life. However, with early detection, state-of-the-art treatment, and therapy, your child can get the best possible outcome. If your obstetrician or the doctor who delivered your infant failed to spot and diagnose this condition before or immediately after birth, you may be able to pursue damages in a birth injury claim due to medical malpractice.
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Infant Spina Bifida Lawsuits & Injury Cases
While it is important to note that a doctor’s mistake or negligence cannot cause spina bifida, it is up to the doctor to recognize the condition as early as possible and offer the best treatments possible. This could involve intrauterine surgery, neonatal surgery, cesarean section delivery, immediate testing for known complications, and additional care as the child grows up. If the doctor or other care providers failed to diagnose the condition before birth, they may have violated the acceptable standard of care.
An attorney in your state can help you understand the medical malpractice laws that apply. Often, they will need to identify a medical expert witness who will review the facts of your case and testify that your doctor failed to provide an acceptable standard of care, acting negligently.
Damages available in this type of medical malpractice case may include:
- Medical care costs
- Ongoing care costs
- Therapy and rehabilitation
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
If you believe your doctor is responsible for a misdiagnosis or a missed diagnosis and this resulted in the loss of the opportunity to treat the infant in the womb or provide immediate care for their complications, reach out to connect with a birth injury lawyer in your state today.
Infant Spina Bifida Lawyer Near Me 1-800-222-9529
Infant Spina Bifida Types
There are three types of spina bifida:
- Spina Bifida Occulta: Spina bifida occulta is the mildest form of the condition, and many people never know they have it.
- Meningocele: In this condition, the spinal cord’s protective membranes extrude through the opening between the vertebrae. Often, there is a visible sac on the infant’s back, but nerve damage is less likely than in myelomeningocele.
- Myelomeningocele: Also known as open spina bifida, a long section of the spine is open at birth. Both the spinal cord’s protective membranes and spinal nerves extrude through this opening.
Infant Spina Bifida Causes
Spina bifida is a neural tube defect that occurs early in pregnancy when the spine and spinal cord fail to form properly. It can cause paralysis below the level of the defect, and additional complications can occur. It requires prenatal treatment and/or treatment immediately after birth.
Infant Spina Bifida Symptoms
Babies with meningocele or myelomeningocele spina bifida are typically diagnosed during a routine ultrasound or at another time during gestation. When they are born, they present with a fluid-filled sac on their back covering an opening in the spine. This sac may include only fluid or fluid, spinal cord, and nerves. In most cases, tissues and nerves are exposed, although it is possible for the sac to be under the skin.
They may also have paralysis below the level of the opening in their spine.
Infant Spina Bifida Diagnosis and Treatment
Spina bifida is often diagnosed in utero. Abnormalities on an ultrasound can lead to a diagnosis. When this happens, intrauterine surgery may allow for a better long-term outcome.
Once the baby is born, the doctors may do an ultrasound to determine the severity of the condition. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or computed tomography (CT) scans can confirm their findings.
Babies with an open spine will require neonatal surgery, often within 48 hours of birth, to close the opening and secure the spinal cord and nerves. Following surgery, they will require ongoing therapy and rehabilitation. Many babies with spina bifida also require shunt placement to help drain excess fluid from their brain.
Infant Spina Bifida Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my baby has Infant Spina Bifida?
Many parents learn their child has spina bifida from a routine ultrasound followed by prenatal testing. In some cases, the condition is diagnosed via a test before it is visible on ultrasound. The alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) test measures the amount of AFP is in the mother’s bloodstream. If this number is high, the doctor may suspect spina bifida or another congenital abnormality.
In some relatively minor cases, it may not be obvious on ultrasound, and the doctor should diagnose the infant after seeing symptoms at birth.
Can Infant Spina Bifida be fatal?
Spina bifida complications include infections and hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain), both of which can be fatal if not treated. In most cases, though, spina bifida is not fatal. It does, however, cause lasting impairments. Each case is unique, but this could include:
- Mobility impairments
- Bowel and bladder issues
- Tethered spinal cord
- Apnea and other breathing issues during sleep
- Latex allergies
- Skin problems
- Orthopedic concerns
Who is liable for Infant Spina Bifida?
While a doctor or other care provider cannot directly cause spina bifida, there are several ways their medical negligence can make the condition worse. This includes:
- Delayed or missed diagnosis
- Not identifying complications such as hydrocephalus quickly
- Not treating symptoms or complications as soon as possible
What is the statute of limitations for Infant Spina Bifida?
Each state has its own deadlines you have to meet when taking legal action related to your child’s spina bifida diagnosis. Your attorney can help you understand the laws that apply in your case. Some things to keep in mind include:
- Statute of Limitations: How long the law gives you to pursue a legal case
- Tolling for Minors: Exceptions on how long you have to take legal action with the victim is under age 18
- Statute of Repose: An absolute deadline on how long you have to file a lawsuit, regardless of tolling or other factors
Infant Spina Bifida Glossary Terms
- What is a Neural Tube? The neural tube is the precursor to the central nervous system in a developing fetus. Defects in the neural tube affect the brain, spine, or spinal cord.
- What is Alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP)? AFP is a protein produced by the liver of a fetus. Doctors test the AFP levels in a mother’s blood to check for abnormalities. Unexpected readings can indicate twins, a miscalculated due date, neural tube defects, or other issues.
- What is Ventriculostomy? Ventriculostomy is a procedure required by some babies with spina bifida to create a hole in one of the brain’s ventricles to allow excess fluid to drain.
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Talk to an Infant Spina Bifida Birth Injury Lawyer
If your child has spina bifida and a missed diagnosis or misdiagnosis prevented you from undergoing intrauterine surgery or kept your child from getting the care they needed, reach out to the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today to file a birth injury lawsuit. Call 1-800-222-9529 to connect with a spina bifida birth injury lawyer near you.
Infant Spina Bifida News
UK Vitamin Manufacturer Recalls Pregnancy Vitamins For Too Little Folic Acid
Pregnant women need to take large amounts of folic acid so that their babies can grow healthy nerves and brains. Spina Bifida, a congenital birth defect, can happen when there is too little folic acid. Taking regular doses is how most pregnant women get enough.
But one vitamin manufacturer in the UK had to recall their pregnancy vitamin gummies because they contain only half of the recommended dose. The Sun talked about the story.
The orange flavor of Gummies Pregnancy Vitamins contained 200 micrograms of folic acid. This is in line with EU and UK regulation. However, the NHS, the health service in the UK, says women should take 400 micrograms daily before they become pregnant up to the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. By that point, the spine is formed so spina bifida cannot develop.
The manufacturer has voluntarily performed the recall, saying that only the orange flavored ones were affected. Buyers of the vitamins are entitled to a full refund.
Folic acid can also be found in many foods like dark leafy greens, and it can be added to other foods to enrich them. However, it is difficult to get enough folic acid through food alone. Women with a high risk of fetal damage may be encouraged to take even higher doses.
How Is A Tethered Spinal Cord Related To Spina Bifida?
Tethered spinal cord (TSC) is closely linked with spina bifida because many children born with the neural tube defect have a condition that is very similar to TSC. Their spinal cord remains improperly connected to nearby tissues, even though this is not a true tether.
In addition, those born with one type of spina bifida, spina bifida occulta, have an increased risk of developing a tethered spinal cord. Those who undergo surgery to repair their spina bifida can also develop TSC since a history of spinal trauma and spinal surgery are two leading risk factors for tethering. If your child has a tethered spinal cord related to spina bifida due to medical malpractice, call us.
Spina Bifida Symptoms Typically Occur Regardless of Spinal Cord Tethering
Many children who develop the condition, specifically myelomeningocele spina bifida, have a spinal cord that remains connected to other tissues. This issue is because of the way the birth defect occurs. As spina bifida develops, the spinal cord fails to separate fully from the skin of the back. This condition prevents the spinal cord from moving up the spinal column.
Unlike TSC, however, the stretching of the spinal cord is not the primary cause of their impairments. Unless treated with cutting-edge prenatal surgery, these children are often born with paralysis from the waist down and an inability to control their bladder and bowels. Untethering their spinal cord will not help them regain any movement or feeling.
Some Children with Spina Bifida Also Have a Tethered Spinal Cord
Spina bifida occulta is the most difficult type of spina bifida to diagnose, and it is also the least impairing. It generally causes no symptoms, although it may if the child also suffers a tethered spinal cord. If left untreated, this can lead to progressive pain and impairment, and eventually to irreversible damage to the spinal cord.
In addition, children who receive early treatment for other types of spina bifida are also at an increased risk for the condition. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports as many as 20 to 50% of children with spina bifida defects who undergo repair surgery shortly after birth will later develop a tethered spinal cord and require an additional procedure to repair the tether.
Diagnosing TSC and Spina Bifida Occulta
Doctors can generally diagnose babies with a severe form of spina bifida during routine prenatal screenings. The parents will learn about their treatment options at that point. When it comes to spina bifida occulta, though, many people who have this condition never know it. It is not obvious during prenatal visits and causes no symptoms in most babies. If there are outward signs or symptoms, it may be because the baby also has a tethered spinal cord.
Signs of a tethered cord in an infant or child with spina bifida occulta may include:
- A foot deformity, such as unusually high arches or hammertoe
- Leg weakness, numbness, or pain
- Inability to control bowel and bladder
If you or your doctor notes these or other signs of a tethered cord in your child, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can diagnose the problem. Treatment generally includes surgery to remove the tether and routine monitoring to ensure re-tethering does not occur.
Your Child’s Missed Diagnosis or Delayed Treatment May Support a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
If your baby or child endured preventable pain, suffering, or disability because of medical negligence, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. This condition may occur in relation to a tethered spinal cord and spina bifida because of:
- A missed spina bifida diagnosis
- Not offering all available treatment options for spina bifida
- Missing a TSC diagnosis
- A misdiagnosis
- Failing to repair the tether quickly
- Other surgical or medical mistakes related to either condition
A birth injury attorney who practices in your state can help you understand if you have a case against the doctor or hospital and help you prove your case. They can also explain how long you have to take legal action. Each state has its own rules about deadlines and extending deadlines when the victim is an infant. Only a local medical malpractice attorney will be familiar with your state’s rules.
Talk to a Birth Injury Attorney About Your Child’s Case
If your child suffered a tethered spinal cord related to spina bifida and you are curious about whether you can hold the doctor or hospital responsible, you need to discuss your case with a birth injury attorney in your state. At the Birth Injury Lawyers Group, our team can connect you with a lawyer who handles cases like yours.
Call (800) 222-9529 today and let us help you set up a free case review with an attorney in your state.
How Does Tethered Spinal Cord Differ From Spina Bifida?
The condition known as tethered spinal cord (TSC) does differ from spina bifida. Many people associate TSC with spina bifida because babies and children with spina bifida often have spinal cords that remain tethered. At the same time, symptoms and signs of spina bifida can often look similar to a TSC. However, TSC also occurs on its own, unrelated to the neural tube defect.
In most cases of spinal cord tethering that occurs on its own without other abnormalities, prompt diagnosis, and surgical intervention can reverse any symptoms. Even when a diagnosis is not made until after nerve damage occurs, releasing the tether generally stabilizes the child’s condition. With spina bifida, releasing the tether is often not necessary because paralysis caused by this birth defect cannot be reversed.
Spina Bifida Can Cause a TSC or a TSC-Like Condition
There are some unique distinctions of a tethered spinal cord differing from spina bifida. In some cases, babies who develop a neural tube defect that causes spina bifida can also develop a tethered spinal cord. In other cases, they have the same symptoms and signs of a tethered cord, but they occur because of other issues besides the spinal cord getting stretched during growth. This could include:
- Impaired blood flow to the spinal cord
- Compression of the spinal cord
- Congenital neuronal dysgenesis
- Other damage to the spinal cord
This is possible because of myelomeningoceles or lipomyelomeningoceles connected to the spinal cord or other issues related to the spina bifida. Unless diagnosed and treated with prenatal surgery, these children are generally born with complete, irreversible paralysis of the legs and never gain control of their bladder or bowels.
Prenatal diagnosis of these severe types of spina bifida is possible and common, and allow for prenatal surgery than can protect the spinal cord during gestation and birth. A surgery after birth may be able to repair the problems with the spinal cord and limit the impairment the child suffers.
Spina bifida occulta, on the other hand, often presents with few symptoms until later, when a true tethered spinal cord can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the lower body, among other symptoms. If treated promptly, these symptoms often disappear.
Tethered Spinal Cords Occur Regularly Without Other Congenital Abnormalities
Another example of how a tethered spinal cord differs from spina bifida, a TSC can occur without spina bifida. There are many causes of a TSC, and the condition could occur during the development of an otherwise healthy child. The flexible string that connects the bottom of the spinal cord to the nearby tissues thickens and becomes inelastic, preventing the spinal cord from stretching and extending upward as the spinal column grows.
This presents either because of signs at birth or because of symptoms that appear later on as the child grows. Like the case with TSC in conjunction with spina bifida occulta, prompt treatment generally brings positive results. Surgery as an infant can prevent symptoms, or treatment, after symptoms appear, can often reverse them.
Ongoing monitoring is necessary to prevent reoccurrence. Spinal trauma and previous spinal surgery–including in children with spina bifida–are risk factors for developing or redeveloping a tethered spinal cord.
You May Have a Medical Malpractice Case if Your Child Has Spina Bifida or a Tethered Spinal Cord
There are several ways that medical negligence can cause newborns with a tethered spinal cord and/or spina bifida to suffer preventable pain and lasting impairments. Most forms of spina bifida are diagnosable during routine prenatal screening, and prenatal surgery may limit the lifelong impairments the child endures. Missing this diagnosis prenatally could dramatically alter the child’s life.
At the same time, missing a TSC diagnosis, misdiagnosing the child, or failing to take quick action to repair the tether could lead to pain and suffering that is preventable. Medical mistakes during the treatment of either condition could also lead to additional pain and impairment.
If you believe you may have a birth injury case related to a TSC or spina bifida, you should discuss your case with an attorney in your state. A birth injury lawyer can help you:
- Understand your rights
- Identify the liable parties
- Prove medical negligence and malpractice
- Navigate the claims process
- Pursue compensation for your child’s treatment, pain and suffering, and related costs
You only have a limited time to take action in this type of case. Each state has its own rules for setting a statute of limitations and tolling that statute of limitations for birth injury cases. Your attorney can also explain the deadlines that apply in your case and ensure you meet them.
Talk to a Birth Injury Attorney Near You Today
The Birth Injury Lawyers Group can help you connect with a lawyer in your state who handles this type of case regularly. They will review your case for free and help you understand your options. Call (800) 222-9529 now to get started.