SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are antidepressants commonly used to treat numerous symptoms of depression as well as panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety. SSRIs increase levels of serotonin within the brain and help to control patients’ appetites, moods and sleeping patterns. Prozac was the first of the large group of medications, introduced in the late 1980s, and was soon followed by Zoloft and Paxil. Sales of SSRIs have increased significantly, including in women of child-bearing age. In fact, studies show that one out of every eight pregnant women is taking an SSRI.
However, several studies have identified numerous risks for life-threatening and severe birth defects for babies born to mothers who had taken an SSRI such as Zoloft during pregnancy. Currently, women are filing lawsuits with the help of Georgia birth defect attorneys to seek compensation for their babies’ conditions.
Researchers Report that SSRIs are Linked to Heart Defects
A Danish study concluded in 2005 that babies exposed to SSRIs in the womb in the first trimester were 60 percent more likely to suffer from a congenital heart defect compared to babies whose mothers did not take Zoloft or other antidepressants during pregnancy. In 2006, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that women taking these medications during the last trimester were six times more likely to deliver a baby with a potentially fatal lung and heart condition known as persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN).
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) subsequently responded in July 2006 and issued a public health warning. In the advisory, manufacturers of Zoloft and other antidepressants were required to strengthen the warning labels on the medications and inform physicians and the public of the potential risks of taking these drugs during pregnancy.
A Safety Announcement was released by the FDA in 2011 acknowledging the potential for babies to develop PPHN if their mothers take Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac or similar medications during pregnancy. Although numerous reports have been brought to light since 2011 regarding this association, the FDA has yet to identify the specific risk.
In addition to serious heart defects and PPHN, plaintiffs and Georgia birth defect attorneys note that Celexa, Zoloft, Lexapro, Paxil and Prozac, among other drugs, have been linked to an increased risk of various malformations such as club feet, cleft palate, cleft lip and limb-reduction defects.
Common Congenital Defects
Plaintiffs and their Georgia birth defect attorneys allege that the following congenital defects are possible if pregnant women take SSRIs:
- Limb defects, including club foot
- PPHN, a lung condition in which the baby may experience kidney or heart failure, organ damage, respiratory distress, difficulty breathing and death
- Heart defects, which include tetralogy of the fallot, transposition of the great arteries, ventricular septal defects, atrial septal defects, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, pulmonary stenosis and pulmonary artresia
- Craniosyntosis, a skull and head defect that can cause developmental delays
- Spina bifida, a neural tube defect that leads to seizures or paralysis
- Omphalocele, an abdominal wall malformation that makes it difficult for the baby to breathe and eat properly
Birth Defect Lawsuits
Women are currently seeking legal counsel from Georgia birth defect attorneys in attempts to seek compensation. Allegations include claims that manufacturers of these medications knew about the potential risks and side effects yet neglected to adequately warn the public prior to releasing the drug. While SSRIs are not dangerous for women to take in general, the FDA reports that those who are expecting to conceive or women currently pregnant should avoid these medications to reduce the risk of unnecessary birth defects in their babies.
Additionally, women and the Georgia birth defects attorneys representing them allege that taking SSRIs such as Zoloft during pregnancy may result in other complications such as:
- Increased risk of premature delivery
- Increased risk of delivering a baby with a low birth weight
- Withdrawal symptoms in a baby exhibited by jitters, irritability, shivering, crying, seizures and respiratory distress
While compensation is determined on a case-by-case basis, many Georgia birth defect attorneys are filing for the following damages for their clients:
- Loss of earning capacity or wages
- Past medical expenses
- Future medical expenses including reconstructive plastic surgery, organ transplants, blood transfusions or other necessary operations
Have Questions or Concerns? Contact Georgia Birth Defect Attorneys Today
At the Georgia Injury Attorney Group, we have a knowledgeable team who can answer your questions about SSRIs and help you to determine if you have a valid claim. If you or someone you love took Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro or other SSRI during pregnancy and you delivered a child with birth defects, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your child’s injuries and medical expenses. We will connect you with experienced Georgia birth defect attorneys who will handle your case from here on out. So contact the Georgia Injury Attorney Group today for your free consultation.