Babies born with cleft palate birth defects impairing their speech, eating habits and physical appearance may qualify for compensation if their congenital malformation was caused by their mother’s use of a prescription or over-the-counter medication during the early stages of pregnancy. If you took Depakote, Zofran, or another potentially harmful pharmaceutical drug while pregnant, and your child was born with a serious orofacial birth defect like cleft palate or cleft lip, consult an experienced product liability lawyer today for legal help. With a qualified birth defect attorney on your side, you can protect your legal rights and seek the financial compensation your child deserves for his or her physical injuries, ongoing medical bills, and emotional trauma.
Cleft palate is a facial and oral birth defect that occurs during the early stages of pregnancy, when there is not enough tissue in the mouth area during fetal development, which prevents the roof of the mouth from forming properly in the womb. The roof of the mouth, or palate, is formed between the sixth and ninth weeks of pregnancy, and when the development of the fetus is interrupted during this time, a cleft palate birth defect may occur. A cleft palate is characterized by a split or opening in the roof of the mouth that affects the bony front portion of the palate, the soft back portion, or both. Cleft palate birth defects are sometimes accompanied by cleft lip, a malformation characterized by a physical split or separation in one or both sides of the upper lip that can extend beyond the base of the nose and affect the bones of the upper gum and/or upper jaw.
In many cases of cleft lip and cleft palate birth defects, the cause of the oral malformation is unknown. However, extensive research has shown that certain medications taken by expectant mothers during the first trimester of pregnancy may significantly increase their risk of giving birth to babies with congenital malformations, like cleft palate. Among the medicines allegedly linked to cleft palate and cleft lip birth defects in babies are:
In addition to causing physical deformities, cleft palate and cleft lip birth defects can also result in long-term complications for affected babies, caused by the malformation of the palate and/or lip. Some babies born with oral clefts experience problems with eating, due to the fact that a separation in the palate can allow food and liquids to pass from the mouth back through the nose, and others have problems with speech, ear infections and hearing loss. In some cases, oral clefts may be linked to dental problems, and children born with cleft palate may be prone to a larger than average number of cavities, and may even have extra, malformed, missing or displaced teeth. In order to address the myriad medical and oral health problems linked to cleft lip and cleft palate birth defects, treatment usually involves a team of doctors and specialists, including a plastic surgeon, a dentist, an orthodontist, an oral surgeon, a speech pathologist, an audiologist and a speech therapist, among others.
According to statistics, cleft lip, with or without cleft palate, affects one in 700 babies every year, and is the fourth most common congenital malformation in the United States. However, in babies whose mothers take pharmaceutical drugs like Depakote or Zofran while pregnant, the risk of cleft lip and cleft palate birth defects may increase dramatically. If your child was born with a major birth defect like cleft palate, and you believe Zofran, Depakote, or another prescription medication to be the cause, contact a knowledgeable birth defect attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your child’s injuries, pain and suffering, and past and future medical expenses, which you can pursue by filing a birth defect claim against the drug manufacturing company.