SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are widely prescribed medications and drugs designed to treat depression and anxiety disorders. However, since September 2005, clinical trials has showed that SSRIs such as Paxil, Celexa, Zoloft, Lexapro, Prozac and an SNRI, Effexor, may cause birth defects in newborns whose mothers took these drugs while pregnant. If you or someone you love have given birth to a baby with birth defects and you feel the condition is directly related to the medication, you may have a valid claim against the manufacturer to seek compensation with the help of an Oklahoma birth defect attorney.
Birth Defects Caused by SSRIs
Oklahoma birth defect attorneys and the plaintiffs whom they represent allege that several birth defects have been linked to SSRI use during pregnancy including:
- Heart defects
- Abdominal wall defects
- Limb abnormalities such as club foot
- Complete or partial closure of the anus
- Cleft palate and/or lip
- Spina bifida
- Abnormal skull growth
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Public Health Advisory on July 19, 2006 concerning the increased risk of neonatal persistent pulmonary hypertension, or PPHN, to infants whose mothers took SSRIs including Prozac, Zoloft and Lexapro during pregnancy. PPHN, a potentially fatal condition, blocks an appropriate amount of oxygen from entering into the baby’s bloodstream.
If you or a loved one were prescribed SSRIs during pregnancy and you were not aware of the potential dangers prior to taking the medication, you may be entitled to pursue a claim with an Oklahoma birth defect attorney if your baby suffered from defects after birth.
FDA Issues Advisory
The FDA also issued a Public Health Advisory the year prior on December 8, 2005 in which the agency acknowledged results from a clinical trial conducted in Sweden and the U.S. Data showed that exposure to particular antidepressants such as Zoloft during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy could increase a fetus’ risk of developing heart defects. The majority of heart complications noted were atrial or ventricular septal defects in which the wall between the right and left sides of the heart do not fully develop. Other heart defects include:
- Conotruncal defects
- Hypoplastic left heart syndrome
- Tricuspid atresia
- Pulmonary atresia and stenosis
- Aortic stenosis
How are SSRIs Classified?
According to the medical community and the FDA, most antidepressants such as Zoloft are classified as a Category C medication. To fall into this classification, animal reproduction studies must have showed an increased risk of adverse health risks on the fetus; the drug should only be taken if the benefits outweigh the risks.
What Do SSRIs Do?
SSRIs prevent serotonin from reabsorbing into the brain. By forcing the alteration of serotonin, the brain as a better chance of properly sending and receiving messages throughout the body, thus boosting patients’ moods.
This group of medications is also among the most prescribed in the world. Clinical trials have showed that these drugs can help treat symptoms of depression and anxiety, and they are relatively safe if the patient takes them as prescribed.
Are There Side Effects?
Members of the medical community report that any side effects apparent after taking an SSRI such as Zoloft for the first time should subside two to three weeks after the initial dose. Some common side effects alleged by plaintiffs and their Oklahoma birth defect attorneys include:
- Digestive complications such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Drowsiness, dizziness, insomnia, restlessness, nervousness, agitation
- Increased risk of fractures and suicidal tendencies
- Sexual complications such as reduced sexual desire, erectile dysfunction, difficulty reaching orgasm
- Weight gain or loss
- Headaches or dry mouth
While such side effects are common in Zoloft and other SSRIs, many pregnant women are advised to consult their healthcare providers should they become pregnant during treatment. Birth defects from Zoloft and other medications can range from minor to life-threatening, from harmless heart murmurs to HLHS syndrome, a congenital cardiac condition that can be fatal if left untreated.
If you took Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro or another similar drug during pregnancy and delivered a child with birth defects, you may be entitled to receive compensation with the help of an Oklahoma birth defect attorney.
Consult an Oklahoma Birth Defect Attorney to Learn More
If you are interested in learning more about filing a claim after taking an SSRI and delivering a baby with birth defects, speaking with an Oklahoma birth defect attorney may be a good decision. At Attorney Group for Oklahoma, we can work to answer questions you may have and provide you with a free consultation. If we feel you have a valid claim, we will connect you with a professional Oklahoma birth defect attorney who will handle your case. The time to pursue a claim in these cases are often limited depending on the state in which the injury occurred, so don’t delay.