Children born with cardiac and other serious congenital birth defects have potentially been linked to use of the anti-depressant drug Effexor (venlafaxine). Research suggests serious Effexor side effects, including the increased risk of congenital heart defects and other congenital birth defects including:
This link between Effexor (venlafaxine), congenital heart defects and birth defects has many concerned that pregnant women should not be prescribed the antidepressant medication Effexor, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Effexor (venlafaxine) 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. Effexor (venlafaxine) affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause symptoms. Effexor (venlafaxine) 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 Effexor as one of those.
Effexor, along with other SSRIs have been linked to serious side effects. Among reported Effexor 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. 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.
SSRI antidepressants like Effexor, Zoloft, Prozac, 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 Effexor 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 Effexor, Zoloft, Prozac 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 Effexor or other SSRI antidepressants. In the Diav-Citrin Study it was shown that Effexor 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 Effexor 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 Effexor, who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant should speak with their doctor about the risks associated with taking Effexor or any other SSRI while pregnant. There are risks associated with taking Effexor 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. Anti-nausea drugs like Zofran, Seizure drugs like Topamax and Depakote have also been linked to increased birth defects of babies born of women that took these medications during pregnancy.
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 Effexor antidepressants during the first trimester of pregnancy may triple the chances of their child having Effexor 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 Effexor autism diagnoses.
If you or a loved one took Effexor while pregnant and have a child that may suffer Effexor autism or other Effexor birth defects, contact our law firm immediately to discuss the legal options available to you and your family.
If you took Effexor or generic venlafaxine during pregnancy and your child was born with a heart birth defect or a lung birth defect, we encourage you to contact a Effexor heart defect litigation attorney at our law firm immediately. It may be too late to recover from the devastating effects of Effexor heart defects, but an experienced products liability Effexor attorney at the Willis Law Firm can assist you in legal action against the makers of Effexor. You are not alone. Join other Effexor heart defect, Effexor lung defect, and other Effexor 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 a Effexor heart defect lawyer at our law firm immediately so we may explain the rights and options available to you and your family.