Spina Bifida Negligence Compensation Claims

By Marlon Rudy. Last Updated 15th August 2022. Have you or your child suffered spina bifida negligence? Spina bifida happens when the foetus does not develop the spine and spinal cord correctly. It’s also referred to as ‘split spine’. The neural tube that develops into the brain and spinal cord suffer a defect. 

spina bifida negligence

A 20-week scan during pregnancy can diagnose your child with spina bifida. This is the anomaly scan that checks for any defects. It is vital that the condition is picked up here so a clear path going forward can be established to avoid any errors and complications. 

You can contact our team of advisers today to have a chat about your situation and receive 24/7 free legal advice. If you have a valid claim, they can connect you with a medical negligence solicitor to discuss No Win No Fee agreements and begin your claim.

To get in touch with our friendly team of advisers, you can:

  • Ring them on 0800 652 3087 to have a chat about your situation.
  • Fill in our online claims form for a reply whenever best suits you.
  • Talk with an adviser via our instant live chat pop-up box today. 

Select A Section

  1. What Is A Spina Bifida Negligence Claim?
  2. What Is Spina Bifida?
  3. Types Of Spina Bifida
  4. What Causes Spina Bifida?
  5. Symptoms Of Spina Bifida
  6. Diagnosing And Treating Spina Bifida
  7. What Could Go Wrong With Spina Bifida?
  8. Spina Bifida Court Case – 1.5million Payout Case Study
  9. Time Limits To Claim For Wrongful Or Negligent Medical Care
  10. Calculating Spina Bifida Negligence Compensation Claims
  11. No Win No Fee Spina Bifida Negligence Compensation Claims
  12. Get In Contact With Us
  13. How Common Is Spina Bifida?
  14. Related Medical Claims
  15. Spina Bifida FAQs

What Is A Spina Bifida Negligence Claim?

Medical negligence is the omission or practices, treatment and care from a medical professional that is considered negligent. This is often through the delivery of substandard care. All medical professionals have a duty of care to anyone who they treat. This duty entails them not causing harm that was preventable. Medicine is very complex but doctors and nurses are specifically trained in these complexities. People make errors and mistakes all the time but when a person’s health is at risk it is a whole new ball game.  

What Is Spina Bifida?

Spina bifida is a condition whereby the spinal cord and vertebrae develop incorrectly, resulting in a gap in the back that does not close. The neural tube that later goes on to form into the brain and the spinal cord does not close or develop correctly. It is not clear why this condition happens. It is thought that the expectant mother is lacking in folic acid in early pregnancy. 

Spina bifida occurs when a portion of the neutral tube refuses to close properly or develop. This causes defects in the bones of the spine (vertebrae) and the spinal cord. 

Types Of Spina Bifida

There are multiple forms of spina bifida, such as:

  • Myelomeningocele – This is the most severe form of spina bifida. It occurs when the baby’s spinal canal opens up so the vertebrae are visible, resulting in the protective membranes and spinal cord creating a sac in the baby’s back.
  • Meningocele – This is a serious form of spina bifida where the spine is penetrated by protective membranes surrounding the spinal cord (meninges).
  • Spina bifida occulta – This is the most common and least dangerous type of spina bifida. This is where a small amount of vertebrae forms incorrectly and causes a very small gap in the spine. This usually causes minimal issues so most people don’t know they have it.

What Causes Spina Bifida?

The definitive causes of spina bifida remain unknown, but it’s believed that these factors increase the risk of a baby having the condition:

  • Low folic acid- It’s estimated that increasing your folic acid intake, for example via supplements, prevents around 7 out of 10 cases of neural tube defects (including spina bifida).
  • Spina bifida running in the family – It’s been shown that having a family history of spina bifida increases the risk of your baby being born with spina bifida. 
  • Taking certain seizure medication (such as valproic acid) when pregnant 

If you were taking a similar form of medication to this, have a family history of spina bifida, or didn’t have a folic acid intake, your GP should’ve made you aware of the possible risk of your baby developing neural tube defects.

Symptoms Of Spina Bifida

Spina bifida can cause damage to the nervous system. This can cause symptoms such as:

  • The leg becomes paralysed (unable to move) or weak – If someone is severely paralysed, they may need a wheelchair to help them move around. 
  • Urinary and bowel incontinence (unable to control bowel movements) – People with spina bifida can also develop kidney stones and urinary tract infections (UTI’s) more easily. They can also develop hydronephrosis when the kidneys stretch out because of a urine build-up inside them. 
  • No skin sensation in the legs – often, a child with spina bifida won’t be able to feel hot or cold sensations, which can lead to injuries (for example, burning themselves by accident).

Moreover, some babies may develop a fluid build-up on the brain (hydrocephalus). This can result in a shorter attention span, reading difficulties, difficulty problem solving, a lack of understanding fast conversations between people, and a lack of organisational skills.

Although many people with spina bifida have average intelligence, some people may develop learning difficulties. They can also develop skin problems, as the lack of sensation can make it harder to tell when their leg skin is damaged. Therefore, ulcers are more likely to develop and the skin could become infected. 

Diagnosing And Treating Spina Bifida


Spina bifida is usually detected in a scan during mid-pregnancy. This scan is offered to all women who are between 18-21 weeks pregnant. If it turns out your baby does have spina bifida, a medical professional will discuss what this means with you. They’ll make you aware of the symptoms, effects it has on daily life, and what your options are.

Once the baby is born, there will be various tests undertaken to see how severe the spina bifida is. This will aid in the process of deciding which treatments will work best for your baby.

Some examples of these tests are:

  • A bladder and kidney ultrasound scan to see how your baby stores their urine.
  • A paralysis check by looking at the way the baby moves.
  • Monitoring the growth of your child’s head by carrying out a brain scan. This tends to be an MRI scan, a CT scan, or an ultrasound scan. This checks to see if your baby has too much fluid in the brain. 

Once your baby is born, you may be recommended surgery to help repair your baby’s spine. This will give them a chance at a healthy, fulfilling life with less severe symptoms and issues. 


Here are some common spina bifida treatments:

  • The baby is often operated on after birth to treat hydrocephalus and close where the spine is opening.
  • Physiotherapy or occupational therapy may be offered to help improve independence, mental wellbeing, and physical movement. 
  • Urinary and bowel issue treatment.
  • Mobility equipment is usually offered to assist with mobility, such as walking aids or a wheelchair. 

It’s common for children with spina bifida to live long, healthy, happy lives if they receive the correct treatment. Although it can be a difficult condition to endure, many people can live with spina bifida and be happy and fulfilled. 

However, this depends on whether the right treatment is offered. Being diagnosed with a condition always has the best outcome if it happens early on. Detection is key. If this is missed because of medical negligence and unnecessary suffering is caused you or your child may be eligible to bring a claim.

This is the policy for treatment too. Any treatment that is available needs to take place at the earliest possible opportunity. A delay in treatment caused by medical negligence that leads to avoidable suffering could qualify for compensation too.

You can get in touch with our team of advisers today to have a chat about your situation and discuss your options. If you have a valid case, they can connect you with a solicitor to begin your clinical negligence claim.

What Could Go Wrong With Spina Bifida?

There are a variety of ways in which medical negligence can negatively affect someone with spina bifida, such as:

  • Misdiagnosis/missed diagnosis – Spina bifida is usually diagnosed in pregnancy through the use of an ultrasound scan or blood tests. Inaccurate results or failure to test properly can produce a misdiagnosis of spina bifida, which can have serious consequences. This can mean the correct treatment isn’t prepared for your baby after birth. Moreover, you may not be aware of what exactly spina bifida is, how it will affect your babies life, and how you need to look after them. Spina bifida surgery is recommended no more than 48 hours after birth. A baby not receiving this vital surgery within this time frame could hinder their development and the chances of them having disabilities that are more severe. If this happens, through negligence you may be eligible to make a medical negligence claim on behalf of your child. 
  •  Treatment – If a baby isn’t given the required treatment less than 48 hours after birth, they may have to endure further pain and suffering, increase the risk of them experiencing long-term symptoms, and decrease the success of the surgery. If this delay in treatment happens through a breach in the duty of care medical negligence may be proven. 

If you’ve experienced spina bifida negligence, please don’t hesitate to contact our team of advisers who’d be happy to advise on your medical compensation claim.

Spina Bifida Court Case – 1.5million Payout Case Study

To show you how a missed diagnosis leading to a lack treatment could be grounds for a claim, we are going to look at a case study examining an act of clinical negligence that resulted in the birth of a child with spina bifida, and the court case that followed.

Amy was born with spina bifida. However, both the obstetrics team and Amy’s parents were told the 20-week scan had not detected any abnormalities. A later look at the scan showed that her condition was clearly visible on the scan, suggesting the radiography team had failed to interpret the scan properly.

Due to the lack of diagnosis, open-fetal surgery was not able to be performed, meaning Amy was left to grow up suffering with pain and care needs from a condition that could have been reduced. The hospital was also unable to perform surgery to repair her spine within the 48-hour period because of a complication with her injury.

Amy’s parents were eligible to make a medical negligence claim. They were awarded £1.5 million pounds to both address Amy’s care needs and to compensate her for the additional pain she was suffering due to the lack of treatment.

(The provided spina bifida case study is a composite of several previous medical negligence cases. It is for illustrative purposes only)

Time Limits To Claim For Wrongful Or Negligent Medical Care

The usual time limitation is three years. That means you have three years to start a claim from the exact date you suffered the injury or the date you realised medical negligence caused your injury. 

However, there are some exceptions to the medical negligence time limit. If you’re under 18, the three-year time limit for medical negligence and personal injury claims begins on your 18th birthday. However, if you’d like to make the claim sooner, a parent can become a litigation friend to pursue the claim on your behalf. 

Similarly, if you lack the mental capacity to make a claim, the claims time limit will begin when your recovery commences. On the other hand, if you’d prefer to make the claim earlier, someone you trust can act as a litigation friend to file the claim for you.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experienced team of advisers to discuss how long you may have left to claim. They can then offer you free legal advice and explore your medical injury claim options.  

Calculating Spina Bifida Negligence Compensation Claims  

Some other articles may contain a medical negligence compensation calculator but we have decided to do it a different way. Instead, we’ve included the latest figures from the Judicial College Guidelines in the compensation table below.

The table below shows how much compensation some injuries may be worth in compensation. Please note that this table is purely for example purposes and figures may vary.

Brain DamageVery Severe Brain DamageCan follow basic commands, eyes open more, and wake and sleep patterns return. However, almost no response to the environment and little function of language.£264,650 to £379,100
Brain DamageModerate Brain DamageDeficit in intelligence, change in personality, and effect on sight.£140,870 to £205,580
Back InjuriesSevere (i)Spinal cord and nerve root damage. Severe pain and disability.£91,090 to £160,980
Back InjuriesModerate (i)Disturbed muscles and ligaments causing back ache and soft-tissue injuries that worsen a pre-existing back condition.£27,760 to £38,780
Neck InjuriesSevere (i)Incomplete paraplegia or resulting in permanent spastic In the region of

Neck InjuriesModerate (i)Fractures which result in immediate symptoms and may result in spinal fusion.£24,990 to
Psychiatric DamageSeriousSeverely affecting a person's ability to function£54,830 to £115,730
Psychiatric DamageModerately SevereDespite sever mental problems, the claimant has a more promising outlook for recovery£19,070 to £54,830

If a medical negligence claim is successful, there are two parts to the compensation:

General damages award compensation for the actual injury and the ways it’s mentally and physically impacted your life. The amount you get given will depend on how severe your injury is and how long the treatment takes. 

Special damages award compensation for the financial effect the injuries had on you. This could be suffering a loss of earnings, for example. However, it’s difficult to receive special earnings without evidence. An example of this evidence could be providing bus tickets as proof that you paid out of pocket to travel to and from medical appointments.

No Win No Fee Spina Bifida Negligence Compensation Claims

Working with a No Win No Fee medical negligence solicitor means you and your solicitor sign a contract stating that you don’t have to pay any of your solicitor’s fees if your case loses. 

If your case fails, you’re under no obligation to pay any of your solicitor’s fees that they’ve gained when working on your case. If your case succeeds, your solicitor will deduct a small, capped percentage from your compensation. This will be discussed with you before it’s deducted. 

No Win No Fee agreements tend to be popular among claimants. Our team of advisers can have a chat with you about your case and connect you with a medical negligence solicitor if you have a valid claim. They can then discuss No Win No Fee agreements with you and begin working on your claim.

Get In Contact With Us

Once you’ve talked with our team of advisers, you’re not obligated to continue with our services if you decide not to. However, if you have a valid claim, you can be connected to a No Win No Fee medical negligence solicitor.

They can then begin working on your claim and help you get your life back on track. You can contact our team of advisers by:

  • Calling them on 0800 652 3087 to receive 24/7 free legal advice
  • Filling in our online claims form for a response at your earliest convenience
  • Chatting with an adviser through our online live chat pop-up box to receive an immediate reply

How Common Is Spina Bifida?

According to Gov.UK spina bifida is found in about 6 babies out of around 10,000. This counts for around 0.06%. If the expectant mother goes on to have further pregnancies then the risk of having another child with spina bifida is about 4%. Or 4 in 100 chance. If spina bifida was caused by genetics the chances of having another child with the same condition are 25%. 

You can get in touch with our expert team of advisers today to have a chat about your situation and receive free legal advice.

Related Medical Claims

Below, you can find links to all of our medical negligence claims guides:

Back Pain – If you’ve suffered back pain due to medical negligence, you may be able to make a clinical negligence claim.

Cerebral Palsy – This is a condition that affects movement and coordination. This NHS guide includes the symptoms, causes, and diagnostic criteria for this condition.

Learning Difficulties – You can learn more about the learning difficulties that spina bifida can cause in this NHS guide.

Spina Bifida FAQs

Is spina bifida a learning disability?

Spina bifida can come with complications such as hydrocephalus. This is fluid on the brain which can cause brain damage. 

Can doctors be wrong about spina bifida?

Pregnant women can have a prenatal scan and blood tests to check for birth defects, such as spina bifida. However, the results aren’t always 100% accurate but close to it. 

What is the average life expectancy of a person with spina bifida?

This would all depend on the type and severity of the condition. 

Can a child with spina bifida lead a normal life?

People with spina bifida can live a long, independent life with the treatment we have in the modern world. 

Thank you for reading our guide about spina bifida negligence.  

Guide by Sophie

Edited by LisM.