Tetralogy of Fallot Side Effects Lawsuit

January 18, 2011

Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF), like 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) is a congenital birth defect.  Antidepressant birth defects include: 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 such as Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) can disrupt the normal flow of blood through the heart, lungs and body.

What is Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF)?

Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) refers to a type of congenital heart defect. Congenital means present at birth.  Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) is classified as a cyanotic heart defect because the condition causes low oxygen levels in the blood. This leads to cyanosis (a bluish-purple color to the skin).  The classic form of Tetralogy of Fallot includes four related defects of the heart and its major blood vessels:

  • Ventricular septal defect (hole between the right and left ventricles)
  • Narrowing of the pulmonary outflow tract (the valve and artery that connect the heart with the lungs)
  • Overriding aorta (the artery that carries oxygen-rich blood to the body) that is shifted over the right ventricle and ventricular septal defect, instead of coming out only from the left ventricle
  • A thickened muscular wall of the right ventricle (right ventricular hypertrophy)

At birth, infants may not show signs of cyanosis. However, later they may develop sudden episodes (called “Tet spells”) of bluish skin from crying or feeding.  Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) is rare, but it is the most common form of cyanotic congenital heart disease. Patients with Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) have a higher incidence of major non-heart congenital defects.

Causes of Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF)

The cause of most congenital heart defects like Tetralogy of Fallot is unknown. Factors that increase the risk for Tetralogy of Fallot during pregnancy include:

Alcoholism in the mother
Diabetes
Use of SSRI antidepressant medications during pregnancy
Mother over 40 years old
Poor nutrition during pregnancy
Rubella or other viral illnesses during pregnancy
There is some incidence of genetic disorders in children with Tetrology of Fallot, such as Down syndrome and DiGeorge syndrome (a condition that causes heart defects, low calcium levels, and immune deficiency).

Symptoms of Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF)

Clubbing of fingers (skin or bone enlargement around the fingernails)
Cyanosis, which becomes more pronounced when the baby is upset
Difficult feeding (poor feeding habits)
Failure to gain weight
Passing out
Poor development
Squatting during episodes of cyanosis

Exams and Tests for Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF)

A physical examination with a stethoscope almost always reveals a heart murmur when Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) is present.

Tests for Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) may include:

Chest x-ray
Complete blood count (CBC)
Echocardiogram
Electrocardiogram (EKG)
MRI of the heart (generally after surgery)

Treatment of Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF)

Surgery to repair Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) is done when the infant is very young. Sometimes more than one surgery is needed. When more than one surgery is used, the first surgery is done to help increase blood flow to the lungs.  Surgery to correct Tetralogy of the Fallot (ToF) may be done at a later time. Often only one corrective surgery is performed in the first few months of life. Corrective surgery is done to widen part of the narrowed pulmonary tract and close the ventricular septal defect present in Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF).

Prognosis (Outlook) for Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF)

Most cases of Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) can be corrected with surgery. Babies who have surgery usually do well. Ninety percent survive to adulthood and live active, healthy, and productive lives. Without surgery to correct Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF), death usually occurs by the time the person reaches age 20.  Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) patients who have continued, severe leakiness of the pulmonary valve may need to have the valve replaced.  Regular follow-up with a cardiologist to monitor for life-threatening arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms) is recommended.

Possible Complications of Tetralogy of Fallot

Delayed growth and development
Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
Seizures during periods when there is not enough oxygen
Death

When to Contact a Medical Professional about Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF)

Call your health care provider if new unexplained symptoms develop or the patient is having an episode of cyanosis (blue skin).  If a child with Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) becomes blue, immediately place the child on his or her side or back and put the knees up to the chest. Calm the baby and seek medical attention immediately.

Prevention of Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF)

There is no known prevention for Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF).

Alternative Names for Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF)

Tet; TOF, ToF, Tetrology of Fallot, Tetralogy of the Fallot

SSRI Class Action Lawsuit vs. Individual SSRI Birth Defect 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 Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) a congenital heart defect, or any 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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