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Cleft Lip

Cleft lip is an orofacial congenital defect that is a result of lip tissue not being able to join completely. This can leave anywhere from a small slit, to a more serious gap that extends into the nose. At about 4,400 cases per year, the presence of a cleft lip is almost twice as likely to occur as is a cleft palate alone.

Depending on the severity of the cleft lip, symptoms and problems can include the following:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Trouble hearing
  • Trouble speaking
  • Trouble feeding
  • Ear infections
  • Dental development
  • Language development

In order to treat and avoid many of these symptoms, surgery is often recommended early in a child’s life. Additional treatments such as orthodontic and speech therapy are also often needed throughout the child’s life and into adulthood.

Due to the visible characteristics of cleft lips, a diagnosis often happens prior to birth via an ultrasound. Though often blamed on genetics, certain preventable factors also contribute to the development of cleft lips. For example, the CDC reports that smoking, diabetes, and the use of certain medicines during pregnancy can all increase the likelihood of a child developing a congenital birth defect.

Of these preventable factors, the most debated is the usage of certain medicines, specifically during the first trimester. Though many studies are inconclusive or require further testing, one common drug associated with cleft lips is Zofran, also known as Ondansetron. Because causal links have been found between Ondansetron and cleft palates, and because children who develop cleft palates also often develop cleft lips, many suggest that this is enough evidence to suggest that there is also a causal relationship between the drug and cleft lips. More information on these links can be found here. The drug, originally approved only for people suffering from nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy and after certain surgeries, has often been prescribed “off-label” to pregnant women suffering from similar symptoms.

Erb’s Palsy: Another Birth Injury Caused by Medical Malpractice...

Medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors, medical staff and even hospitals has become a growing concern in many US states for the past decade. Despite the standard quality of care that medical health providers are required to provide all patients with, many of them have fallen into the erroneous practice of reducing medical care to a pay-for-service doctor and patient relationship.

Medical malpractice not only worsens a patient’s current health complaints, it can also result to injury or a new illness that the patient will need to worry about. And, despite the thousands of medical mistakes already reported every year, so many more still go unreported.

One of the most dreaded results of medical malpractice is birth injury, any form which to a newly born child can turn a couple’s joy into severe pain, and a joyful occasion into a heartrending one. A number of the most commonly reported injuries include: cerebral palsy, a chronic and incurable brain disorder that impairs a child’s body movement, muscle coordination, sensation, cognition, speech, and other brain functions); subconjunctival hemorrhage or rupture of small blood vessels in the eyes; caput succedaneum or swelling of the head’s soft tissue; brain and spinal damage; and, erb’s palsy.

Erb’s palsy is a birth injury characterized by paralysis of the arm. This paralysis is a result of the severing of a group of the arm’s main nerves (which are part of the brachial plexus) which are found close to the neck. These nerves are actually among those responsible in allowing the arms, hands and fingers to feel and move. There are instances when these nerves are stretched in the event of dystocia, a difficult or abnormal delivery or labor. This happens when a medical staff assisting in the delivery carelessly uses force in pulling the baby from the birth canal. It cannot be denied that there are situations when pulling the baby from the birth canal becomes necessary, such as if the baby is quite big, if labor (prior to delivery) takes longer than it should, or during a breech delivery, that is when the feet are the first to come out; however, this should be done with utmost care to ensure that no harm will befall the child.

According to the website of The Driscoll firm, Erb’s palsy is an injury sustained during childbirth and that the most common reason for this is a mistake by a medical practitioner. The firm also explains, through its website, that the victim of this birth injury may be entitled to receive compensation from the liable party for all the damages resulting from this disorder.

Medical Risks: Zoloft and Cerebral Palsy

Of the 2.4 billion prescriptions written by doctors every year, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)states that about 118 million are for antidepressant drugs, making these the third most prescribed type of medication in the US. NCHS records also show that between 1988–1994 and 2005–2008, use of antidepressants increased by almost 400 percent.

Psychiatrists, of course, agree that antidepressants can be prescribed to people with severe illnesses or severe cases of depression, but definitely not to those suffering only from mild attacks. And, along this line, one major concern is that many of the doctors who have prescribed antidepressants are not psychiatrists. The World Health Organization’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse expresses concern over the fact that a lot of Americans, who should not be using the drug, are getting the prescriptions anyway, but not as a solution to stress, anxiety or sadness.

It appears that many doctors have been prescribing antidepressants to people for off-label use, that is, use not approved for by the US Food and Drug Administration. These include off-label treatment of insomnia, pain, headache and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which is due to Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS); some doctors even recommend antidepressants to help people quit smoking.

One specific antidepressant that has been written on about 30 million prescriptions was Zoloft (sertraline chloride), which was introduced by Pfizer in 1990. Zoloft was originally manufactured for those in the United Kingdom, where it was given the brand name Lustral. Seen as more effective and with fewer side effects, Pfizer developed it and introduced it in the US market, where it eventually dislodged Prozac at the top of the antidepressants chart.

Zoloft comes from SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) family of antidepressant drugs. SSRIs, which control the level of serotonin in the brain and which affect an individual’s learning, sleeping and mood patterns, have been prescribed to patients to control their mental illnesses, such as depression. Specifically, the drug has been used as a treatment for major depressive disorders (MDD), as well as for panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Side-effects, however, both minor and severe, began to be linked to Zoloft over the past years. And while there are concerns of prescribing the drug to people with liver or kidney ailments, who also suffer from mania, suicidal thoughts or seizures, the greatest concern is giving the drug to pregnant women or those expecting (or planning) to becoming pregnant soon.

Some of the milder side-effects of Zoloft include sleepiness or insomnia, headache, suicidal thoughts, restlessness, diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, sexual dysfunction and dry mouth. The severe ones, though, can include: serious birth defects; withdrawal symptoms in babies following birth; persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), which can be fatal; the possibility of the baby being born with a heart defect; anencephaly, a fatal condition wherein a large portion of the skull and brain fail to develop; facial malformations, like cleft palate or cleft lip; and Omphalocele a condition wherein abdominal organs, like the liver and the intestines, develop outside of the abdomen.

As of June 2014, at least 250 Zoloft birth defect lawsuits have been filed in a federal court in Philadelphia alone. Zoloft lawyers still anticipate a possible surge in the number of birth defects involving Zoloft, which openly advertised the product for use by pregnant women, despite already being linked to serious birth defects.

Birth defects and other forms of medical errors are almost always due to the grave negligence of certain individuals, like manufacturers, doctors, healthcare personnel, and others. Acts of negligence can result to wrong prescription, misdiagnosis, surgical errors, injecting wrong dose of anesthesia, birth defects and to so many more.

Another serious birth defect that can be due to negligence is cerebral palsy, the loss of motor function in, or impairment in the muscle coordination of, children due to abnormality in the development of the brain. This injury, which greatly affects a child’s ability to walk, play, talk, eat, etc., can be sustained by a child while inside the womb, during birth or soon after birth.

Because of medical mistakes thousands of children end up with birth defects (including cerebral palsy) every year. Doctors’ failure to provide proper care, especially to pregnant women and those planning on becoming pregnant soon, can very well be the cause of a Zoloft prescription or inability to detect a problem in a pregnant woman’s or an unborn child’s health condition.

Besides Zoloft lawyers, there are cerebral palsy lawyers who can represent both mother and child in a medical malpractice lawsuit that will attempt to show that acts of negligence are the causes of birth defects. Victims of birth defects due to negligence are protected and allowed by the law to receive proper compensation from the liable party.