Limb reduction is a serious birth defect marked by the legs and/or the arms failing to develop properly while an infant is still in utero. Although additional studies are still needed, there have been recent incidents in which pregnant women who took Zofran had infants with a limb reduction birth defect.
Limb Reduction Defined
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), limb reduction, also known as upper and lower limb reduction, is defined as the entire leg (the lower limb) and/or the entire arm (the upper limb) failing to appropriately develop during pregnancy.
In the United States alone, an estimated 1,500 infants are born each year with limb reduction. While most of these babies are born with either lower limb reduction or upper limb reduction, some infants are born with both upper and lower limb reduction.
Problems Associated with Limb Reduction
Unfortunately, there are a number of problems that infants with limb reduction may go through, and as they grow older, can face additional issues during childhood. The most common issues babies and children with limb reduction face include:
- Delay in motor skills development
- Difficulties with self-care
- Social anxiety and other emotional issues (especially during school years)
- Inability to play certain sports
- Limitations in movements
Treatment Options for Limb Reduction
Treatment for limb reduction will depend on the severity of the defect as well as the child’s age when treatment starts. The most common types of treatments include:
- Artificial limbs
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
Although more research is needed, recent studies suggest that taking prenatal vitamins or multivitamins prior to pregnancy may help reduce the chance of infants developing limb reduction.
Causes of Limb Reduction
Although the causes of limb reduction are still unclear, there has been research that’s indicated that certain factors may contribute to the defect, which include:
- Maternal viruses
- Maternal exposure to chemicals
- Mothers taking certain medications while pregnant
Zofran, an anti-nausea medication that’s approved only for use by cancer patients, has been prescribed frequently to pregnant women as off-label use for morning sickness. Despite numerous studies showing that Zofran heightens the risk of having infants with birth defects, doctors are still prescribing the medication to pregnant women. In turn, more and more women are having infants with a variety of different birth defects.
Some women who took Zofran while pregnant report that their babies developed limb reduction, along with other birth defects. Research indicates that limb reduction may be associated with other types of birth defects, such as heart malformations and omphalocele.
What to Do if Your Baby Has Limb Reduction
If you took Zoloft while pregnant and your infant was born with limb reduction, there is a chance that it was caused by the medication. GlaxoSmithKline, the makers of Zofran, deliberately promoted Zofran as off-label to pregnant women after seeing an open market in which the medication could be sold to. However, they promoted the medication with only limited studies on the drug’s side effects and the risk of birth defects.
You have the legal right to file for damages against the responsible party. Keep in mind that you may be entitled to compensation for your baby’s medical expenses, pain, suffering, and much more.