Several studies have linked SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, to serious and potentially fatal birth defects in infants born to mothers who had taken these medications during pregnancy. These drugs are typically prescribed to treat a number of disorders such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. SSRIs such as Zoloft elevate serotonin levels and help to control patients’ sleeping patterns, moods and appetites. Introduced in the 1980s, Prozac was the first drug in this class to hit the market; it was soon followed by Paxil and Zoloft.
While many patients have taken these medications without complications or adverse side effects, many women taking SSRIs during pregnancy delivered babies with skull, heart and abdominal birth defects. Mississippi birth defect attorneys note that many of these patients are filing to seek compensation for medical expenses and procedures, pain and suffering and lost wages.
If you or someone you know was taking Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac, Lexapro, Celexa or Effexor while pregnant and delivered a baby with birth defects, consult a Mississippi birth defect attorney to learn more about your rights. The time to pursue a claim is often limited; should you miss this window, you may be prohibited from seeking compensation at a later time.
Studies Provide Evidence of Increased Rate of Birth Defects
In 2005, a Danish research study provided strong evidence that fetuses exposed to Zoloft and similar SSRIs in the womb were 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with a heart defect compared to infants whose mothers did not take these drugs.
The New England Journal of Medicine then published a study in 2006 and found that mothers had a six-fold chance of delivering a newborn with persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN), a serious and often deadly heart and lung condition.
As a result, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a warning across the country in July 2006, acknowledging the seriousness of the risks of SSRIs during pregnancy. The agency also required drug makers to update the warning labels on their products to reflect these risks.
Five years later, the FDA again released an announcement stating that babies were at an increased risk of developing PPHN if mothers continued to take Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft or similar drugs while pregnant. Since 2011, when the FDA made the statement, several reports have been discussed yet the FDA has not clarified what exactly is in the medications that is causing the risk of PPHN.
Mississippi birth defect attorneys and the plaintiffs they represent are alleging other birth defects aside from PPHN and heart complications. Lawsuits claim that Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, Zoloft and Celexa, among others, may cause a higher risk of limb-reduction defects and malformations including cleft lip, cleft palate and club feet.
Are Congenital Defects Common in Infants?
Although some birth defects are related to genetics and not medication, plaintiffs and Mississippi birth defect attorneys claim that a few congenital defects are common in babies whose mothers take SSRIs during pregnancy. These include:
- Spina bifida, a defect that can cause paralysis or seizures
- Craniosyntosis, a head and skull defect that can lead to developmental delays
- Heart defects including hypoplastic left heart syndrome, pulmonary artresia, pulmonary stenosis, atrial septal defects, ventricular septal defects, transposition of the great arteries and tetralogy of the fallot
- PPHN, a defect of the lungs in which infants may suffer from respiratory distress, organ damage, heart or kidney failure, trouble breathing and death
- Limb defects such as club foot
- Omphalocele, a malformation in the abdominal wall that can prevent proper breathing and eating
Plaintiffs File Lawsuits with the Help of Mississippi Birth Defect Attorneys
Those who were unaware of the alleged increased risk of birth defects while taking SSRIs like Zoloft during pregnancy are currently filing lawsuits to seek compensation. Allegations in these cases include claims that drug makers knew, or should have known, about the serious risks of taking their products while pregnant. Additionally, these manufacturers allegedly had a legal and moral responsibility to warn the public when evidence began to show that these medications may not be safe for pregnant women.
Other allegations by Mississippi birth defect attorneys include claims that SSRIs can cause:
- Higher chance of a low birth weight baby
- Higher chance of prematurely delivering a baby
- Withdrawal symptoms in a baby as shown by seizures, irritability, jitters, shivering, respiratory distress and crying
Experienced Mississippi Birth Defect Attorneys Can Help You Now
At Attorney Group for Mississippi, we understand the legalities surrounding the lawsuits regarding birth defects in newborns. Should you have any questions about a potential case in which a pregnant mother took Zoloft or other SSRIs and delivered a baby with birth defects, please feel free to contact us today. We will provide you with a free consultation and connect you with experienced Mississippi birth defect attorneys who can assist you further.