Topamax, the widely popular migraine and epilepsy medication, has raised eyebrows due to its connection with birth defects. Recent studies have shown that Topamax, when used by women during pregnancy, may lead to defects in new born children such as cleft lip or cleft palate. It is important for pregnant women to acknowledge these possible dangers and understand the risk to their babies.
What is a Cleft Lip and What Causes It?
Cleft lip occurs when the developing tissue of the nose and upper jaw does not fuse normally resulting in a split in the lip. Cleft lip is treatable and generally does not cause health problems although in some more severe cases, children have difficulty feeding. The defect usually occurs on only one side of the upper lip, and very rarely in the lower lip. Cleft lip is visible at birth and beyond the noticeable physical appearance, there are usually no other symptoms.
The recent action by the Food and Drug Administration warns that Topamax could lead to an increased percentage of newly born children with cleft lip. Aside from Topamax, there are other genetic and environmental factors that could lead to an increased risk. People who were born with a cleft lip or cleft palate are more likely to have children with similar defects. Pregnant mothers can also put their unborn children in a significantly higher line of risk if they have been exposed to radiation or infections, used some illegal drugs, smoked during pregnancy, or drank alcohol.
Bitrh Injury Attorneys in New Jersey and Philadelphia
If you were recently pregnant and your child was born with a birth defect, such as a cleft lip or cleft palate, it is likely that you have some questions. Please contact the Mininno Law Office with questions regarding these birth defects, or call for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.
The March of Dimes website has released the findings of their international research department’s study of world wide birth defects. The official report includes staggering statistics, explaining that, “Every year an estimated 8 million children — about 6 percent of total births worldwide — are born with a serious birth defect of genetic or partially genetic origin…” While the official numbers appear to be lower in higher income nations, this percentage is unnerving when considered in the context of our health care system.
In our nation of freedom, we should be able to not only prevent these birth defects by way of higher quality screenings during pregnancy, but also prevent bringing a child into this world in such horrible circumstances. Parents must be able to prevent wrongful births and should be given the option to do so by physicians who do not interject their moral or religious positions upon their patients. The law in this nation stands as pro-choice. Just as pregnant women can choose to terminate pregnancy for a plethora of reasons, so should parents be able to prevent their birthing of a baby who may be born with a terminal illness.
The article from the March of Dimes includes a quote from one of the researchers: “The human toll of birth defects is even greater when one considers the impact of lifelong disability on children, their families, and society,” says Michael Katz, M.D., senior vice president for Research and Global Programs at the March of Dimes. If more doctors took a position that excluded their personal opinion and included an objective, professional opinion, then they would likely come to a similar conclusion as Dr. Katz. While Katz’s international research portrays a more worldly understanding of these issues, it is inexcusable for a nation such as ours – one with such good medicine and such freedoms – to do so little to prevent these birth defects and wrongful births.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by medical malpractice, you may have a claim for damages. For more information, please go to the New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorneys page.
John R.Mininno, Esq. is a New Jersey and Pennsylvania trial lawyer representing clients in medical malpractice, defective products and other serious injury claims. He also writes about issues concerning patient safety. His offices are in Collingswood, NJ and Philadelphia, PA.