Children born with cardiac and other serious congenital birth defects have potentially been linked to use of the anti-depressant drug Prozac (fluoxetine). Research suggests serious Prozac side effects, including the increased risk of congenital heart defects and other congenital birth defects. This link between Prozac (fluoxetine) and congenital heart defects has many concerned that pregnant women should not be prescribed the antidepressant medication Prozac. In addition to serious congenital Heart Birth Defects, SSRIs like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil have also been linked to increased risk of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN).
Prozac (fluoxetine) is included in a group of medications called Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) that work by boosting serotonin levels in the brain, resulting in the regulation of mood, sleep and appetite. Prozac (fluoxetine) affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause symptoms. Prozac (fluoxetine) is used to treat depression, bulimia nervosa, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).In May 2005, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, estimated in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that in any given year at least 80,000 pregnant women in the U.S. are prescribed SSRIs, with Prozac being the biggest seller.
Prozac, along with other SSRIs have been linked to serious side effects. Among reported Prozac side effects are an increased risk of congenital heart defects, Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN) and serious withdrawal symptoms.
In 2004, Health Canada advised of potential adverse effects of SSRIs and other anti-depressants on newborns, specifically fluoxetine (Prozac). This notification was intended to increase awareness among mothers and physicians of the possible symptoms and side effects that may occur in the newborn, so that symptoms could be recognized and addressed immediately.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Prozac (fluoxetine) in 1987. By 1998 Prozac had become the most widely prescribed drug for depression on the market. 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.
SSRI antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil and Celexa have been linked to cases of serious congenital heart defects, which may include atrial septal defects (ASD), ventricular septal defects (VSD), 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). 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. Children may then be able to lead a mostly normal and productive life following medical attention. In some cases, the only viable option to correct these severe heart defects and preserve the child’s life involves a heart transplant.
In 2005, a Danish study indicated that pregnant women prescribed SSRI antidepressant medicines like Prozac in early pregnancy may have increased risk of giving birth to infants with congenital heart problems. In this study, infants exposed to SSRI antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil during the first 3 months of pregnancy had a 60 percent higher chance of developing congenital heart defects compared with infants whose mothers did not take Prozac or other SSRI antidepressants. In the Diav-Citrin Study it was shown that Prozac increases the risk of Cardiovascular defects four and a half times and it doubles the risk of major abnormalities overall.
It is also known is that there is 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. The Alwan 2007 study showed an almost three times increase risk of Craniosynostosis which is when the plates of the skull prematurely close. The Alwan study also showed an increased risk associated with SSRI’s as a group, for Anencephaly, Craniosynostosis and Omphalocele.
Women who are taking SSRI antidepressants, including Prozac, who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant should speak with their doctor about the risks associated with taking Prozac or any other 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 this medication.
There are distinct differences between a Prozac (fluoxetine) class action lawsuit and a typical individual Prozac lawsuit. A Prozac class action lawsuit would be a form of Prozac 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 Prozac (defendant). In a class action lawsuit involving personal injury, resulting from defective products such as antidepressant SSRI drugs like Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline) and Celexa (citalopram), all Prozac lawsuit plaintiffs would typically be grouped together into a single Prozac class action lawsuit, regardless of the degree or severity of their birth defect injuries. In this type of Prozac 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 Prozac class action lawsuit. All plaintiffs in the class would equally share any award or settlement resulting from the Prozac class action lawsuit.
In Prozac 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 Prozac, Celexa, Paxil and Zoloft 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). Prozac cases such as these are better suited to an individual Prozac lawsuit because of the severity and degree of injury to the plaintiff. In an individual Prozac 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 Prozac, Celexa, Paxil and Zoloft 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 Prozac lawsuit allows each Prozac 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.
A recent study published by Archives of General Psychiatry has found a link between antidepressant use during pregnancy and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Pregnant women taking Prozac antidepressants during the first trimester of pregnancy may triple the chances of their child having Prozac autism. This study was prompted when researchers noticed a rise over the past few years in the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant (SSRIs) and an increase in Prozac autism diagnoses.
If you or a loved one took Prozac while pregnant and have a child that may suffer Prozac autism or other Prozac birth defects, contact our law firm immediately to discuss the legal options available to you and your family.
If you took Prozac or generic fluoxetine during pregnancy and your child was born with a birth defect, we encourage you to contact a Prozac litigation attorney at our law firm immediately. It may be too late to recover from the debilitating effects of Prozac, but an experienced products liability attorney at the Willis Law Firm can assist you in a legal action against the makers of Prozac. 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.