Tegretol and Spina Bifida Side Effects

Tegretol patients who develop spina bifida may be entitled to financial compensation. If you have been adversely affected by the anticonvulsant drug, contact a Tegretol attorney for legal help.

Recent studies have drawn a potential connection between the use of the anticonvulsant Tegretol and the development of major birth defects, including spina bifida, among children exposed to the drug in pregnancy. Tegretol was approved by the FDA in 1974 and is commonly used to treat epilepsy, neuropathic (nerve) pain, and the manic phase of bipolar disorder. Tegretol (carbamazepine) works by interfering with nerve impulses that cause pain and seizures, and is currently manufactured by drug company Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Although Tegretol has been on the market for nearly forty years, new research indicates the drug may no longer be considered safe, especially in the treatment of pregnant women. If you took Tegretol while pregnant and your child was born with a serious birth defect like spina bifida, contact an experienced Tegretol attorney to discuss your compensation options.

Spina Bifida Symptoms

Spina bifida is a type of neural tube birth defect, caused by the failure of the neural tube to close properly during fetal development. The neural tube is the child's precursor to the central nervous system, which is comprised of the spinal cord and brain. In spina bifida in particular, some of the vertebrae overlying the spinal cord fail to fuse together fully in utero, leaving an opening in the spinal column through which a portion of the spinal cord may actually protrude. Spina bifida ranges in severity from spina bifida occulta to spina bifida cystica, characterized by a fluid-filled cyst located on the child's back.

Spina Bifida Treatment and Complications

To prevent further damage to the nervous tissue and to prevent infection, the child will likely undergo surgery to close the opening in the back, followed by periodic evaluations by a variety of specialists. Although spina bifida can be surgically closed after birth, this procedure does not restore normal function to the affected portion of the spinal cord. Unfortunately, children born with spina bifida have an increased risk of suffering from life-altering complications like paralysis, bladder and bowel control problems, and general difficulties with learning, movement and development.

Tegretol Side Effect Studies

In 2001, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study in which researchers screened over 100,000 women between 1986 and 1993 who used one or more anticonvulsant drugs while pregnant. Of the group of women who took only one anticonvulsant during pregnancy, 87 took Dilantin, 58 took Tegretol, and six took Depakote, among others. According to the results, 20.6% of children exposed to one anticonvulsant in utero were born with serious birth defects like spina bifida, compared to 28% of infants exposed to two or more anticonvulsants, and only 8.5% of unexposed infants. Researchers found not only that Tegretol may cause severe birth defects among children, but also that the prevalence of spina bifida side effects was highest among children whose mothers took Tegretol in combination with Depakote.

The British Medical Journal published a study in 2010 suggesting that Tegretol use in pregnancy may increase a child's risk of being born with spina bifida. Researchers reviewed eight cohort studies involving 2,680 women who took carbamazepine (Tegretol) while pregnant. According to the report, 3.3% of infants exposed to Tegretol during the first trimester of pregnancy developed major birth defects like spina bifida. In fact, the study results suggested that women who took Tegretol while pregnant were 2.6 times more likely to give birth to children with spina bifida, compared to women who didn't take the drug while pregnant.

Tegretol Use in Pregnancy

Tegretol has been labeled a pregnancy category D medication by the FDA, which means positive human evidence illustrates the drug's potential to cause severe fetal harm when taken during pregnancy. If you are currently taking Tegretol and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your healthcare provider to discuss alternative treatment options. It may be dangerous to suddenly stop taking a prescription drug without medical consent, as this may cause further harm to you or your child. However, with the help of your doctor, you may be able to find a safer way to treat your condition.

Tegretol Attorneys for Spina Bifida Side Effects

Spina bifida is one of the most devastating birth defects allegedly linked to the use of anticonvulsant drugs like Tegretol, and will likely have long-term effects on a child's quality of life. If you or a loved one has suffered from a spina bifida side effect and you believe Tegretol to be the cause, contact a Tegretol attorney for legal help. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering, which you can collect by filing a Tegretol lawsuit against Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Drug companies like Novartis are expected to produce safe and effective medications, and should be held liable for any adverse side effects sustained by consumers of their products. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. With the help of a qualified Tegretol lawyer, victims of potential Tegretol side effects can collect the compensation they deserve and protect themselves and their family from further harm.

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