Congenital birth defects are many of the most severe side effects associated with the use of  SSRI Antidepressants such as Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), Lexapro (escitalopram) and Celexa (citalopram),  including: Congenital Heart Defects, Congenital Lung Defects, Congenital Abdominal Wall Defects, Congenital Cranio-facial Defects,and other birth defects and malformations affecting various other areas of the child’s anatomy.

SSRI Antidepressant Heart Birth Defects

According to scientific studies, women who take SSRI Antidepressants such as Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), Lexapro (escitalopram) and Celexa (citalopram) are at least twice as likely to give birth to children with serious congenital heart defects.  A congenital heart defect is a problem with the structure of the heart present at birth. Congenital heart defects are the most common type of major birth defect.  A baby’s heart begins to develop shortly after conception and during the first tri-mester. During development, structural defects can occur. These defects can involve the walls of the heart, the valves of the heart and the arteries and veins to and from the heart. Congenital heart defects can disrupt the normal flow of blood through the heart, lungs and body.

SSRI Antidepressant Lung Birth Defects

Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) is one form of lung and respiratory birth defect that has been linked to the use of SSRI Antidepressants such as Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), Lexapro (escitalopram) and Celexa (citalopram)  during pregnancy.  In the uterus, a baby’s circulation bypasses the lungs. When a baby is born and begins to breathe, its body normally transitions to the process of respiration.  PPHN occurs when a baby’s body doesn’t make the normal transition in circulation at birth, resulting in the circulation of un-oxygenated blood throughout the body.

Other SSRI Antidepressant Birth Defects

According to studies, there is an over 800% increased risk of giving birth to a child with Omphalocele when a woman has been prescribed and taken SSRI Antidepressants such as Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), Lexapro (escitalopram) and Celexa (citalopram) during her pregnancy.  Omphalocele is an abdominal wall birth defect that occurs when an infant’s intestine or other abdominal organs protrude out of the navel. SSRI Antidepressant use during pregnancy has also been linked to cranio-facial malformations, as well as limb deformities and the birth defect known as Clubfoot.

Specific SSRI Antidepressant Birth Defect Side Effects

Atrial Septal Defects (ASD) –  A congenital heart defect in which the wall that separates the upper heart chambers does not close completely. Congenital means the defect is present at birth.  In fetal circulation, there is normally an opening between the two atria (the upper chambers of the heart) to allow blood to bypass the lungs. This opening usually closes around the time the baby is born.  If the ASD is persistent, blood continues to flow from the left to the right atria. This is called a shunt. If too much blood moves to the right side of the heart, pressures in the lungs build up.  For more detailed information follow the link to: Atrial Septal Defects (ASD)

Ventricular Septal Defects (VSD) –   A congenital heart defect in which one or more holes in the wall that separates the right and left ventricles of the heart occur.  It may occur by itself or with other congenital diseases.  Before a baby is born, the right and left ventricles of its heart are not separate. As the fetus grows, a wall forms to separate these two ventricles. If the wall does not completely form, a hole remains. This hole is known as a ventricular septal defect.  For more detailed information follow the link to: Ventricular Septal Defects (VSD).

Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) –  A rare type of congenital heart defect that develops before birth when there is not enough growth of the left ventricle and other structures, including: the Aorta — the blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood from the left ventricle to the entire body, the entrance and exit of the left ventricle, Mitral and aortic valves   For more detailed information follow the link to: Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome  (HLHS).

Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) –  A congenital cyanotic heart defect causing low oxygen levels in the blood leading to cyanosis (a bluish-purple color to the skin).  It includes four related defects of the heart and its major blood vessels: Ventricular Septal Defect, Narrowing of the Pulmonary Outflow Tract, Overriding Aorta that is shifted over the right ventricle, and Right Ventricular Hypertrophy, a thickened muscular wall of the right ventricle.  For more detailed information follow the link to: Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF).

Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA) –  A congenital heart defect in which the two major vessels that carry blood away from the heart — the aorta and the pulmonary artery — are transposed.  This is a cyanotic heart defect leading to cyanosis (a bluish-purple color to the skin) and shortness of breath.  In this defect, blood goes to the lungs, receives oxygen, and goes back to the lungs without going to the body.  Blood from the body returns to the heart and goes back to the body without ever picking up oxygen in the lungs. For more detailed information follow the link to: Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA).

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) — A congenital heart condition where the ductus arteriosus fails to close after birth.  It leads to abnormal blood flow between the aorta and pulmonary artery.  Before birth, the ductus arteriosus allows blood to bypass the lungs by connecting the pulmonary arteries with the aorta. At birth, the lungs fill with air and this blood vessel is no longer needed and will usually close. If it does not close, abnormal blood circulation between the heart and lungs will occur.  For more detailed information follow the link to: Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA).

Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR) — A congenital heart disease in which none of the four veins taking blood from the lungs to the heart is attached to the left atrium.  In normal circulation, blood is sent from the right ventricle to pick up oxygen in the lungs. It then returns through the pulmonary veins to the left side of the heart, which sends blood out through the aorta, to the body.  In TAPVR, oxygenated blood returns from the lungs to the right atrium and circles from the heart to the lungs and never out to the body.  For more detailed information follow the link to: Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR).

Coarctation of the Aorta (CoA) — A congenital heart disease in which  narrowing of part of the aorta which blood to pass through the artery.  Aortic coarctation can also be due to birth defects of the aortic valves.  Many factors, including the use of antidepressant medications during pregnancy, seem to be involved.  Coarctation of the aorta may be seen with other congenital heart defects, such Bicuspid Aortic Valve, Ventricular Septal Defect, and defects in which only one ventricle is present.   For more detailed information follow the link to: Coarctation of the Aorta (CoA).

Other Congenital Heart Defects -  A congenital heart defect is any malformation or other problem with the structure of the heart that is present at birth. Congenital heart defects are the most common type of major birth defect and have many varieties and manifestations.  A baby’s heart begins to develop shortly after conception and during the first tri-mester. During development, structural defects can occur. These defects can involve the walls of the heart, the valves of the heart and the arteries and veins connecting to the heart. Congenital heart defects can disrupt the normal flow of blood through the infant’s heart, lungs and body.

Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN) — A congenital pulmonary birth defect where a newborn does not receive necessary oxygen from the lungs.  In the womb, oxygen is supplied through the umbilical cord.  At birth, a baby’s system normally switches to receiving oxygen from its lungs. With PPHN, the heart, blood vessels, and lungs do not make that transition, and the blood does not interact with the lungs, but instead circulates as it did in the womb.  For more detailed information follow the link to: Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN).

Omphalocele (an abdominal  wall birth defect) — A birth defect in which the newborn infant’s intestine or other abdominal organs protrude from the navel.  An omphalocele is a type of hernia or rupture.  An omphalocele develops as a baby grows inside the mother’s womb, when the muscles in the abdominal wall (umbilical ring) do not close properly.  As a result, the intestine remains outside the umbilical cord.  For more detailed information follow the link to: Omphalocele.

Craniosynostosis (cranial skull defect) — A congenital birth defect resulting in one or more sutures (areas separating individual skull bones) on a baby’s head closing earlier than normal, leading to an abnormally shaped head.  There are three types: Sagittal Synostosis, Frontal Plagiocephaly, and Metopic Synostosis.  These deformities may range from mild to severe.  For more detailed information follow the link to: Craniosynostosis.

Clubfoot — A congenital birth defect occuring when the foot turns inward and downward. It is the most common congenital disorder of the legs, and can range from mild and flexible to severe and rigid.  Many factors, including the use of antidepressant medications during pregnancy, also seem to be involved.  The physical appearance of the foot may vary. One or both feet may be affected.  The foot turns inward and downward at birth, and is difficult to place in the correct position. The calf muscle and foot may also be slightly smaller than normal.  For more detailed information follow the link to: Clubfoot.

SSRI Class Action Lawsuit vs. Individual SSRI Lawsuit

There are distinct differences between an SSRI Antidepressant (Zoloft – sertraline, Paxil – paroxetine, Prozac – fluoxetine, Lexapro – escitalopram and Celexa – citalopram) class action lawsuit and a more typical individual SSRI lawsuit. A SSRI class action lawsuit would be a form of SSRI lawsuit in which a large group of people (plaintiffs) collectively bring a lawsuit to court in the form of a “class action” against the manufacturers of the SSRI antidepressant (defendant). In a class action lawsuit involving personal injury, resulting from defective products such as antidepressant SSRI drugs like Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), Lexapro (escitalopram) and Celexa (citalopram), all SSRI lawsuit plaintiffs would typically be grouped together into a single SSRI class action lawsuit, regardless of the degree or severity of their birth defect injuries. In this type of SSRI class action lawsuit, plaintiffs with injuries ranging from minor heart murmurs not requiring surgery, all the way to the most severe congenital heart defects, requiring multiple surgeries or a complete heart transplant, would be grouped into one single SSRI class action lawsuit. All plaintiffs in the class would equally share any award or settlement resulting from the SSRI class action lawsuit.

In SSRI antidepressant lawsuits involving catastrophic injury or death, an individual lawsuit, in most cases, is more appropriate and in the plaintiff’s best interest. SSRI antidepressants like Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro and Paxil, have been linked to some of the severe congenital heart defects listed above, including: atrial septal defects (ASD – hole in the heart), ventricular septal defects (VSD – hole in the heart), tetrology of fallot (ToF), hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), transposition of the great arteries (TGA or TOGA), patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), total anomalous pulmonary venous return (TAPVR), double outlet right ventricle (DORV), and coarctation of the aorta (CoA). SSRI antidepressant cases such as these are better suited to an individual SSRI antidepressant lawsuit because of the severity and degree of injury to the plaintiff. In an individual SSRI lawsuit, each plaintiff’s case is filed, presented and considered individually, based on its own strength and degree of injury.

In many cases involving SSRI antidepressants like Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil and the serious congenital heart defects related to these SSRI antidepressants, surgery is required. Heart surgery will typically be required when a child is an infant or toddler and then again, potentially multiple times, as the child grows to maturity. In many cases, with surgery and medical care, children may be able to lead mostly normal and productive lives. An individual SSRI lawsuit allows each SSRI victim, their injuries and their future needs to be considered on an individual basis when determining damages, awards and settlement amounts, and not as part of a class action lawsuit.

Speak to an SSRI Lawyer about an SSRI Birth Defect Lawsuit

If you took Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Celexa (citalopram), Lexapro (escitalopram) or any another SSRI antidepressant drug during pregnancy and your child was born with a congenital heart, lung or other birth defect, we encourage you to contact an SSRI Antidepressant Lawsuit Attorney at our law firm immediately. It may be too late to recover from the devastating effects of Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Lexapro and Celexa but an experienced pharmaceutical products liability lawyer at the Willis Law Firm can assist you in legal action against the makers of these dangerous antidepressant drugs. You are not alone. Join other birth defect victims and their families in speaking up and fighting for your legal rights.

Please fill out our free online legal evaluation form and we will contact you within 24 hours, or call our offices at 1-800-883-9858 for immediate help. Please keep in mind that certain states have statutes of limitation that limit the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit or seek legal action. Contact our law firm immediately so that we may explain the rights and options available to you and your family.

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