Cleft lip is a type of congenital deformity caused by abnormal facial development during gestation or the first trimester of pregnancy.
A cleft is a gap or opening when the body’s natural structures fail to fuse or form before birth. Harelip is the same as a cleft lip.
Approximately, one in 700 children is born with a cleft lip or cleft palate. Cleft lip is usually less serious than a cleft palate.
What are cleft lip causes?
Clues for genetic causes of cleft lip are sketchy at best. It has been thought that cleft lips run in families but no syndrome has been identified to include as fact. If parents without a cleft have a child who has a cleft -- chances for another child to have a cleft is 2 to 4 percent. If either parent has a cleft, the risk of having a child with a cleft is 4 to 5 percent.
Some factors that may cause cleft lips include:
- Women over 35 have a greater risk of newborns with cleft lips
- Teenage pregnancies
- Lack of prenatal care
- Lack of a balanced diet during pregnancy
- Chronic substance abuse
- Using at-risk prescription drugs such as anticonvulsant medications
The North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry (NAAED) has shared data with the FDA demonstrating an increased risk of cleft lips in infants exposed to the anticonvulsant medication Topamax during the first trimester of pregnancy. Topamax is prescribed for anti seizures and to prevent migraine headaches.
The risk for developing cleft lips in infants of mothers who take Topamax or its generic equivalent, compared to infants of mothers not taking anticonvulsant medication, is double the risk. Similarly, use of the anti-nausea drug Zofran has been associated with a twofold increased risk of cleft palate. Other Zofran birth defects include cleft lip and heart malformations.
If your baby has a cleft lip and you took Topamax to prevent seizures or migraine headaches, you should act now and contact Anapol Weiss law firm to find out what your legal recourse is.