Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are antidepressant medications typically used for treating anxiety disorders, depression and some personality disorders including eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder. These medications are designed to elevate the level of serotonin in the brain; a low level of the neurotransmitter has been linked to depression. Because it is necessary to metabolize stress hormones, low levels often lead to anxiety disorders.
However, women who took these medications during pregnancy and delivered a baby with birth defects may consider consulting with Louisiana birth defect attorneys to learn more about filing a claim. Oftentimes, birth defects lead to repeat and expensive procedures such as reconstructive surgeries, heart transplants, physical therapy or other procedures to help remedy their infants’ conditions.
SSRIs and the Lawsuits Surrounding Them
Upon their introduction, SSRIs such as Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac, Lexapro, Celexa, Effexor and others were first thought to be safer than other similar medications; physicians and patients also believed that they had less strong and fewer adverse interactions with other drugs and side effects.
Common side effects of SSRIs include:
- Increased feelings of anxiety and/or depression
- Appetite/weight fluctuations
- Changes in or diminished libido
Although SSRIs are not considered to be addictive like benzodiazepines or opiates, physicians often warn against sudden discontinuation as it can produce psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms. In recent years, SSRIs have made media headlines due to their alleged link to various health complications including birth defects in babies whose mothers took the medications during pregnancy.
If you or someone you love have taken an SSRI and you feel the medication is to blame for your newborn’s condition, you may be entitled to receive compensation with the help of a Louisiana birth defect attorney. You may be eligible to damages such as surgeries, treatments, procedures and medications as well as lost wages and pain and suffering.
SSRIs Lawsuits by Louisiana Birth Defect Attorneys
Manufactured by Pfizer Incorporated, Zoloft has been allegedly linked to babies born with persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN). A study recently published in the new England Journal of Medicine reports that babies born to mothers who took Zoloft after the halfway mark in their pregnancies had a six times greater chance to deliver a baby with this condition than women who did not take SSRIs while pregnant.
PPHN can make the transition from breathing inside the womb to normal breathing after delivery difficult; many newborns require a ventilator and assistance breathing after birth. Plaintiffs and Louisiana birth defect attorneys allege that newborns of mothers taking Zoloft may also experience withdrawal symptoms including gastrointestinal problems, sleep disturbances, high-pitched crying and tremors. Studies show that 13 percent of newborns exposed to SSRIs exhibited withdrawal symptoms.
Louisiana birth defect attorneys report that newborns born to mothers who had taken anxiety medications or antidepressants like Zoloft during pregnancy have also been diagnosed with birth defects aside from PPHN including:
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Atrial septal defects
- Heart defects
- Limb deformity
- Cleft palate/cleft lip
- Spina bifida
Additionally, plaintiffs and Louisiana birth defect attorneys allege that fetuses exposed to SSRIs in the womb during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy may be at an increased risk of low birth weight and premature delivery. There is also evidence that manufacturers allegedly knew as early as the 1990s that these medications could potentially affect babies. It wasn’t until 2006 that the FDA issued a safety warning acknowledging these birth defects.
While the FDA advised pregnant women to avoid medications such as Zoloft throughout their pregnancies, specific birth defects have been noted during the first and last trimesters. Women were also advised to seek medical assistance and to discuss any concerns from their healthcare providers.
Along with the physical birth defects of their babies, Louisiana birth defect attorneys and the plaintiffs whom they represent are alleging specific claims against the manufacturers of these drugs including:
- Selling, marketing and producing potentially dangerous drugs
- Failing to warn of the dangers of Zoloft and other SSRI drugs during pregnancy
- Negligence in conducting clinical trials
- Failure to report results to the public
Have You Delivered a Baby with Birth Defects and You Feel an SSRI is to Blame?
If you or someone you love has taken Zoloft or another SSRI during pregnancy and your newborn was diagnosed with severe and/or life-threatening birth defects such as spina bifida, PPHN, heart defects or other abdominal, heart or skull complications, you may be entitled to pursue a claim. Contact Attorney Group for Louisiana with questions you may have. We will provide you with a free consultation and, should we feel you have a case, connect you with experienced Louisiana birth defect attorneys who can handle your claim to the end.