Antidepressant SSRI Birth Defect Lawsuit

January 7, 2011

Antidepressant Pills1Children born with heart birth defects, cleft lip, cleft palate, PPHN and other congenital birth defects have been linked to the use of an anti-nausea drug Zofran or to group of antidepressant drugs namely Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro and Effexor taken by women during pregnancy. In several birth defect studies infants of mothers taking these drugs during pregnancy during the first trimester of pregnancy had a higher probability of developing congenital heart defects and other birth defects than newborns whose mothers did not take SSRI antidepressants or anti-nausea medications during pregnancy.

Antidepressant Drugs Include:

Zoloft Birth Defect Lawsuits
(Generic: sertraline)
Lexapro Birth Defect Lawsuits
(Generic: escitalopram)
Paxil Birth Defect Lawsuits
(Generic: paroxetine)
Celexa Birth Defect Lawsuits
(Generic: citalopram)
Prozac Birth Defect Lawsuits
(Generic: fluoxetine)
Effexor Birth Defect Lawsuits
(Generic: venlafaxine)

Other Drugs That May Cause Birth Defects Include:

(Pregnancy Birth Defects)
Wellbutrin Birth Defect Lawsuits
(Generic: bupropion)
Depakote Birth Defect Lawsuits
(Generic: divalproex sodium)
Zofran Lawsuits
(Birth Defects)

SSRI Antidepressant Heart Defects

SSRI antidepressants like Zoloft, Effexor, Pristiq, Paxil, Lexapro and Celexa have been linked to cases of serious congenital heart defects in children of mothers that ingested these antidepressants during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy. In many cases, surgery is required when the child is very young (first three years of life) and then again, potentially multiple times, as the child grows to adulthood. Most congenital heart defects are treatable when they are diagnosed and addressed early on, but some more serious heart defects like TOF, TGA and HLHS can cause years of problems and with HLHS may lead to the need for a heart transplant. Besides antidepressants, a chemotherapy drug given to pregnant women for morning sickness and nausea called Zofran is causing many serious birth defect cases, including heart defects, cleft lip and cleft palate.

This strong link between SSRI antidepressants and congenital heart defects has many medical experts concerned that pregnant women should not be prescribed these medications. In addition to serious cardiac birth defects, Pristiq, Paxil, Zoloft, Lexapro, Celexa and other SSRIs have been linked to increased risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) and a range of serious cranio-facial, limb (hand, arm, foot, leg) and abdominal wall malformations.

What are Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor (SSRI) Antidepressants?

Antidepressant Pill Bottles1Antidepressants classified as Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRI) work by boosting serotonin levels in the brain, resulting in the regulation of mood, sleep and appetite. Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro and other SSRIs affect chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause symptoms. SSRI antidepressants are typically prescribed to treat depression, bulimia nervosa, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) among other disorders.

When the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the SSRI antidepressant Prozac in 1998, it became the most widely prescribed SSRI drug for depression on the market. Two years before that FDA approval, a 1996 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that women taking Prozac during pregnancy were two times as likely to deliver a baby with three or more “minor abnormalities” and poorer than average neonatal adaptation.

Then in 2005, a Danish study showed that pregnant women who have been prescribed SSRI antidepressant medications like Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Lexapro and Celexa during early pregnancy may have significantly increased risk of delivering infants with congenital heart defects. In this study, infants that were exposed to these antidepressant SSRIs during the first trimester of pregnancy had a 60% higher probability of developing congenital heart defects when compared with infants whose mothers did not take Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro or other SSRI antidepressants.

Health Canada, in 2004, advised of the potential serious adverse effects of SSRI antidepressants on newborns. This alert was issued to increase awareness among pregnant women and their physicians of the possible side effects occurring in newborn infants, so that birth defects could be recognized and addressed immediately.

In May 2005, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, wrote in a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that in any given year in the U.S. over 80,000 pregnant women are prescribed SSRIs, with Prozac and Paxil being the best sellers.

In published reports there is also a strong link between SSRI antidepressants and other congenital malformations, including lung, cranio-facial, limb (arm, hand, leg, foot) and abdominal wall malformations. A study conducted at Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark, revealed that the risk of pregnant women giving birth to babies with congenital defects, including heart and other defects, was increased among women who had prescriptions for SSRIs such as Prozac filled in the 30 days before conception through the end of the first trimester, compared with those who had no SSRI prescriptions filled during the same period.

Women who are taking SSRI antidepressants, including Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Lexapro and Celexa who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant should speak with their doctor about the risks associated with taking any antidepressant SSRI while pregnant. There are risks associated with taking Prozac while pregnant, and there may also be concerns about discontinuing medication. All birth defect risks should be discussed with a physician and balanced against any possible benefits of taking an SSRI medication.

SSRI Class Action Lawsuit vs. Individual SSRI Lawsuit

There are distinct differences between an SSRI 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 severe congenital heart defects, 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 other 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 Litigation 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 products liability lawyer at the Willis Law Firm can assist you in legal action against the makers of these dangerous 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. 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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