Use of Botox to treat Cerebral Palsy could be linked to serious reactions

Carl Saiontz

By Carl Saiontz
Posted February 9, 2008


Yesterday, the FDA notified the public about serious and potentially fatal reactions which have been associated with use of Botox and Myobloc. Botox side effects could be responsible for a number of hospitalizations and deaths, most of which involved children with cerebral palsy who were treated with Botox to reduce spasticity in their limbs.

>>FDA ALERT: Botox reactions lead to safety review

Botox and Myobloc are medications which contain the botulinum toxin, which is the bacteria associated with the development of Botulism. Both medications are approved to treat cervical dystonia, which involves sustained muscle contractions in the neck that can cause the head to rotate to one side or pull down towards the chest. Botox, which is the more well know product, is also approved for cosmetic use to help remove wrinkles and hide the signs of aging.

Although Botox is not approved by the FDA to treat cerebral palsy, several other countries have approved the drug to help children with an inability to relax certain muscles. Cerebral palsy is a disability which impacts movement control and muscle coordination. It results from brain damage which can be suffered before, during or immediately after birth.

>>PRIOR POST (2/22/07): Cerebral Palsy Botox Treatment

Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common form of the disability. It is associated with muscles which are in a constant state of increased tension, resulting in stiff, jerky and difficult movements. Use of Botox to treat cerebral palsy can be effective, as the toxin binds to the nerve endings, preventing the nerve from signaling the muscle to contract. Although it is not approved for this purpose in the United States, many doctor use the drug “off-label” which is a common medical practice for approved drugs.

The FDA has indicated that the adverse reactions which have been reported could be related to overdosing, and most of the cases involved children with cerebral palsy. The typical dose of the Botox injection which is used when it is given to children with spastic cerebral palsy is significantly larger than what is normally used when it is prescribed for cosmetic purposes, which could be causing some of the reactions.

The Myobloc and Botox side effects could produce symptoms similar to Botulism, which is a serious and potentially life-threatening disease which causes muscle paralyzation. Signs of problems could include:

  • Weakness
  • Double or Blurred Vision
  • Drooping Eyelids
  • Slurred Speech
  • Dry Mouth
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Respiratory Distress

The warning labels for both Botox and Myobloc do indicate the risk of side effects which could cause the toxic active ingrediants to spread to other parts of the body and cause possible respiratory problems and difficulty swallowing. However, the consumer group Public Citizen has previously indicated that the warnings should be strengthened, as they have identified at least 16 deaths that could be associated with the use of Botox or Myobloc.

The FDA statement indicates that they are conducting a complete review of the data from post-marketing adverse event reports, and they will consider whether recommendations or regulatory actions are needed. It is possible that the agency will require a black box warning about the risk of Myobloc and Botox side effects. A black box warning is the strongest warning that can be placed on a prescription medication, and it is displayed prominently on the label in a black box to draw attention to the potential side effects.

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The lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. represent children who are pursuing cerebral palsy lawsuits as a result of brain damage which is caused by a medical mistake at the time of death. Food poisoning lawsuits are also reviewed for individuals who have suffered from Botulism as a result of canned foods which have become contaminated during the manufacturing process.

6 Comments • Add Your Comments

  • Eileen says:

    I take Botox for Cervical Dystonia and I have not ever seen a box or a vial for that much..The shots are prepared and ready when I come in the office. How would people know?

    Posted on March 8, 2010 at 8:29 pm

  • Carly says:

    I can’t believe this! My daughter who is 2 and has spastic Cerebral Palsy has seen 2 pediatric developmental specialists who have said the use of Botox might be necessary after other attempts to control her muscles fail. Neither Doctor mentioned a word of this to me at our multiple appointments and multiple times talking about it. I will NEVER let my daughter get Botox shots, there is always another way!

    Posted on June 29, 2010 at 3:15 pm

  • amy says:

    My son is 30 years old, took him to a doctor today. They want to do botox because the cerebral palsy is effecting his breathing, He has a nebulizer and inhaler, daily. he leans forward to much and they say the botox will relax his muscles so his posture will improve to help him breath
    Don’t know what to do. now that I have read up on it.

    Posted on December 27, 2011 at 6:33 pm

  • monica says:

    My daughter, who is 5, was born with holoprosencephaly. Her doctor recommended Botox and I had the appointment set but just never felt right about it. I talked to someone who said the Shriner’s organization is completely against Botox. I’m going to research and see what else is out there. I can’t risk my daughter’s life for the possibility that this helps.

    Posted on April 14, 2014 at 4:24 pm

  • Gayle says:

    I’m an adult with CP & my Neuroligist wants to try Botox with me ; but only for my hands & arms.

    I want too do it; but I am apprehensive I’ve had CP since birth.
    My mother was mentally disturbed & she basicly went to a Quack. She was 39 in 1951 & she already had my sister who was 8 yrs older than me.

    She was healthy;
    The doctor was Dr. Carso I think.

    I discover when I was in my 30’s that was well known as a Quack.

    My parents are both dead.

    My Dad was a good & very smart man he worked for Shell Oil Company from the time he was 16 until he was asked to retire.

    Posted on July 30, 2014 at 12:09 pm

  • Lori says:

    Do not do it, do not use Botox! The company that manufacturers it has not been ethical and have hidden all of the D erase effects of this medication which are significant and life altering. Our child within 24 hours of being injected began having seizures and since has been diagnosed with a seizure disorder caused by the Botox. Individuals have experienced paralysis, dysphasia and other adverse side effects. Physicians do not adequately warn patients and they do not educate themselves about this lethal drug.

    Posted on December 11, 2014 at 2:09 pm

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