Causes of Cleft Lip & Palate in Newborns | Scott Goodwin Law

Causes of Cleft Lip & Palate in Newborns

by / Wednesday, 21 February 2024 / Published in Birth Trauma, Medical Malpractice
Assortment of prescription medication pills.

Sometimes, there can be confusion about whether or not a condition is a birth injury or a birth defect. Generally speaking, a birth defect is a condition which develops during pregnancy, often the result of genetics. On the other hand, birth injuries are caused by something that goes wrong during labor/delivery or shortly after birth, often caused by medical malpractice of some kind, such as waiting too long to order an emergency C-section or using too much force during delivery. However, there are some situations where a birth defect could be the result of medical malpractice, such as cleft lip and palate. 

What is Cleft Lip & Palate?

Cleft lip and palate occurs when tissue in a baby’s lip or the roof of their mouth doesn’t completely join together during pregnancy. According to the CDC, approximately 1 in every 2,800 babies born in the United States is born with a cleft lip and about 1 in every 1,700 is born with a cleft palate. Cleft lip and cleft palate can both be treated through surgery, which typically occurs within the first 12 months of a baby’s life for a cleft lip and within the first 18 months for a cleft palate. However, it isn’t uncommon for children born with a cleft lip or palate to require additional surgery later on. While these aren’t fatal conditions, if they go untreated, they can cause complications such as difficulties with feeding, speech development, and other dental matters. In some cases, children may also experience problems with their hearing, such as frequent ear infections. 

It’s not exactly clear what causes cleft lip and cleft palate to develop. Genetics are believed to be a factor, but research has also suggested that other factors can also play a role, such as smoking or drinking during pregnancy, the mother being diagnosed with diabetes before pregnancy, exposure to viruses during pregnancy, and taking certain medications during pregnancy.

Medications Linked to Cleft Lip & Palate

It’s crucial that mothers get the medical care they need during pregnancy, but it’s also crucial that doctors be careful when prescribing medications so they don’t give a patient medication that could potentially cause health complications for the child. Some medications taken for epilepsy (Topamax), seizures (such as Depakote and Dilantin), depression/anxiety (SSRIs like Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft), and acne (Accutane) have been linked to cleft lip and cleft palate. Methotrexate is another medication that has been linked to cleft lip and cleft palate, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and some types of cancer. 

Contact a Michigan Birth Injury Lawyer

If a doctor prescribed medication to you during pregnancy that caused harm to your child, or didn’t advise you to stop taking a previously prescribed medication after finding out you were pregnant, don’t hesitate to contact a birth injury lawyer for help. Since birth injuries are often caused by medical malpractice, it’s important to have someone on your side who knows the law and has experience handling these types of complex cases. At Scott Goodwin Law, you’ll be able to get help from a lawyer who has handled both birth injury and medical malpractice cases in the state of Michigan. Contact us today for a free case evaluation and find out how we can help you.

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