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.
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 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.
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.