Spina Bifida, or 'split spine' is a condition arising when the spinal cord and vertebrae do not develop as they should. It is unknown what causes the condition, but a lack of folic acid prior to and in the early stage of pregnancy is a known risk factor.
There are various types of Spina Bifida: spina bifida occulta, the most common and least serious form, to myelomeningocele (also known as open spinal bifida), the most severe form whereby a baby's spinal cord remains open and the spinal cord and protective membranes push out and form a sac in the baby's back.
Open spina bifida can usually be diagnosed at the 20-week pregnancy scan, but occasionally the condition is not recognised. In certain circumstances, parents would chose to terminate the pregnancy had the condition been correctly diagnosed and therefore bring a wrongful birth claim following delayed diagnosis. A delay in diagnosis can also mean that corrective surgery may not be possible or as effective by the time it is diagnosed.
The condition is often treated with surgery shortly after birth, although sometimes prenatal surgery is also possible. The results of surgery and the effect of the condition vary greatly from case to case.
Our specialist spina bifida solicitors have acted for clients suffering significant difficulties, including needing full time wheelchair use, bowel and bladder incontinence and cognitive impairment.
Hydrocephalus, or 'water on the brain' is a condition where there is an excess of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain, compressing the surrounding tissue and causing increased pressure inside of the skull.
It can be congenital or acquired with various causes, many impossible to predict or prevent. Occasionally, the condition is a result of negligent treatment. Whatever the cause, the impact is the same, increased pressure leading to damage to the brain, particularly if left untreated.
Symptoms depend on the severity of the condition, but typically include headaches, blurred vision, altered mental state and reduced mobility. The condition is a medical emergency and should be diagnosed via an appropriate scan and treated as a priority.
Treatment of the condition involves inserting a shunt into the brain to drain away the excess CSF.
Claims arise for a number of reasons including a delay in recognising and treating the condition, negligent shunt surgery or delays in recognising a blocked shunt that needs replacing.
The effects of negligent treatment can be catastrophic, often resulting in permanent brain damage and substantial claims for compensation.
Our team of specialist hydrocephalus solicitors can advise if you have a claim and how to proceed.
Fieldfisher is a member of Shine's Legal Service
Shine is the UK’s leading charity for people affected by spina bifida and hydrocephalus. Shine’s aim is to make a positive difference to the lives of people affected by spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus, enabling and empowering their members to lead the lives they want to live.
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