Clubfoot is one of the many serious birth defects associated with Zofran, a medication manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for use by cancer patients experiencing nausea. The medication was never intended for pregnant women to use but it’s been prescribed in shocking amounts of cases, promoted as off-label use for morning sickness.
Clubfoot is a birth defect that occurs when a baby’s foot is turned inward instead of the normal position. Clubfoot is usually diagnosed at birth after the doctor notices the infant’s unusual foot position. An X-ray may be administered in order for the physician to see how severe the clubfoot is.
The most common symptoms of clubfoot include:
- The affected foot may be smaller than average
- The front of the foot is turned towards the other foot
- In some cases, the bottom of the foot points up
- The foot may also point downward
Clubfoot will not improve without treatment, which can lead to a host of problems, including painful feet, calluses, limited physical activity, and more.
Treatment is usually recommended shortly after the doctor determines that the infant has clubfoot. However, older infants have been successfully treated as well, but generally, the sooner the treatment, the better.
The most common types of treatment include:
Casting and Manipulation
Casting and manipulation entails stretching and manipulating (gently) the infant’s foot in the proper position. A cast is the then put on the foot and leg. The baby will usually see a physician each week, who will repeat the stretching, manipulation, and casting process. It will take around six to eight weeks of the process to see improvement.
Once an infant goes through casting and manipulation, an achilles tenotomy is usually performed, which entails a relatively minor procedure in which an instrument cuts the Achilles tendon.
Many parents are worried about the incision, but the cut is tiny and will not even require stitches. After the procedure is done, the physician will apply a new cast, which will help protect the baby’s leg and foot while the tendon heals.
The procedure helps the baby’s Achilles tendon grow properly and to the correct size. Within around three weeks, the tendon should heal.
Once the tendon has healed, however, parents can help the process by doing stretching exercises with the baby’s feet and leg. Your physician should be able to help you learn gentle stretching exercises that can help. In addition, your baby may require specialized shoes and a brace. Be certain to make sure that he/she wears the brace and shoes as long as your physician directs.
Causes of Clubfoot
There are numerous reasons that these conditions surface, including genetics, maternal infections, and environmental factors. However, recent studies performed by the FDA indicate that using Zofran while pregnant increases the risk of an infant developing clubfoot.
Yet, as mentioned earlier, Zofran is not approved for use by pregnant women. It’s still common, however, for doctors to continue to prescribe the medication for morning sickness, increasing the risk of birth defects.
Although it’s unclear exactly why these doctors are able to continue to prescribe Zofran to pregnant women, many of them indicate that the chances of birth defects are so small that the benefits of the medicines outweigh the risks. Yet, until more studies are concluded, there is no certainty of the exact percentage of infants that may develop birth defects associated with Zofran.
If your baby has been injured after you took Zofran while pregnant, keep in mind that you have the legal right to file for compensation against the responsible party. For more in-depth information, refer to our article, Zofran Lawsuits.