Topamax® has been linked to the development of the birth defect, cleft lip and cleft palate. Topamax® is often prescribed to treat epileptic seizures, and sometimes migraine headaches. Like other anti-seizure drugs, it has been found to be a leading cause of cleft palate and cleft lip.
Use of Topamax® during pregnancy has a much higher risk of cleft lip in babies whose mothers take the medication than any other epilepsy drugs.
According to a warning issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), babies are 20 times more likely to be born with cleft palate when they are exposed to Topamax® than those exposed to other epilepsy treatments. Most anti-seizure medications make cleft palate development 5-8 times more likely. Cleft palate development occurs when the roof of the mouth doesn’t completely close during the development of facial structures.
Cleft palate can cause other conditions, which might be avoided with prompt treatment. Surgery is usually performed before the child reaches 12-18 months.
Cleft Palate Complications
Cleft palate treatment can begin immediately to correct one of the earliest complications, which is the lack of suction creating feeding problems. There are specialized bottles and nipples that aid babies in creating suction, and prevent choking and gagging, which are also problems associated with oral clefts. In some cases treatment may include the insertion of an obdurator, which is a plate that closes the gap until surgery is performed.
Long-term complications of cleft palate can include:
- Psychological problems
- Speech disorders
- Physical ailments like dental problems and hearing loss
Cleft palate can cause hearing loss because the gaps in the roof of the mouth make the victim susceptible to ear infections. Any time there is a loss of hearing, there can be problems with the development of proper speech. Some patients will also have difficulty with pronunciation. Speech therapy and continuing surgeries as the child grows may be considered.
In addition to the physical problems, some children may experience emotional and behavioral problems associated with lack of self-esteem.
Compensation for Cleft Palate
Treatments can be expensive and emotional for the infant and parents. A lawsuit can help the family recover compensation to pay for present and future treatments as well as ease the stress of the situation as they learn to adapt to the challenges ahead. Contact our Topamax® cleft palate lawyers to find out if your case qualifies for compensation.