Birth Injury and Spina Bifida
Posted in Medical Malpractice on January 18, 2021
Pregnancy is an exciting yet nerve-wracking experience, especially for new parents. If you are expecting a child, you expect that the doctors overseeing your prenatal and postnatal care will uphold the necessary medical standards and take steps to ensure preventable complications do not occur. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Obstetricians have a responsibility to examine a fetus for common birth complications. If they fail to diagnose a child with a condition prior to delivery, serious complications can occur. One of these conditions, known as spina bifida, can cause serious harm to an infant.
What Is Spina Bifida?
Spina bifida is a birth defect that occurs when an unborn infant’s neural tube fails to properly develop or close. The neural tube is an embryonic structure that eventually develops into the brain and spinal cord and begins to form in the early stages of pregnancy. Under normal circumstances, the neural tube closes approximately one month into the pregnancy.
When a portion of the neural tube suffers a defect, the child will develop issues with his or her spinal cord and the bones in the spine. There are three types of spina bifida that an infant may experience.
- Spina bifida occulta is the least severe form of this condition. The infant does not experience a major defect in the spine and does not always experience neurological symptoms.
- Meningocele occurs when the protective membrane surrounding the spinal cord pushes through the opening of the vertebrae. The spinal cord develops normally, and a surgeon can remove the bulging membrane without causing serious nerve damage.
- Myelomeningocele is the most serious form of spina bifida. This condition occurs when the spinal canal is open or exposed along the spinal cord. As a result, the nerves and tissues along the spinal cord are vulnerable to damage and life-threatening complications.
Spina Bifida Symptoms and Complications
When a child is born with spina bifida, he or she can experience significant symptoms that can affect his or her daily life. Symptoms of spina bifida vary based on the type of defect a child develops.
- Symptoms of spina bifida occulta may include a small birthmark or dimple, fat collection near the spine, or an abnormal tuft of hair.
- Symptoms of meningocele may include a fluid-filled sac located on the child’s back that is visible underneath the skin.
- Symptoms of myelomeningocele may include bowel and bladder difficulties, seizures, paralysis, muscle weakness, and orthopedic abnormalities such as a curved spine or deformed feet.
Additional spina bifida complications may include scoliosis development, hip injuries, and abnormal eye movements. A child may also experience damage to his or her cognitive functions and find it difficult to concentrate or pay attention to tasks.
Can You File a Birth Injury Lawsuit for Spina Bifida?
Doctors can easily diagnose spina bifida using ultrasounds, AFP screenings, or amniocentesis procedures prior to delivery. A radiologist can also examine a fetus for spina bifida by detecting certain symptoms, such as dilated ventricles or clubbed feet.
It is the responsibility of these medical professionals to test for and diagnose this condition prior to delivery. Your child may suffer complications during the labor and delivery process if the medical team does not adequately prepare for a spina bifida delivery.
If you believe your child suffered a spina bifida-related birth injury or that your doctors failed to diagnose the condition, contact a Kansas City medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you file a lawsuit against the negligent medical professionals responsible for your child’s injuries, helping secure the compensation he or she needs to treat the condition.