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) are congenital birth defects, 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.
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.
Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return is a congenital heart disease (present at birth) in which none of the four veins that take blood from the lungs to the heart is attached to the left atrium (left upper chamber of the heart).
The cause of total anomalous pulmonary venous return (TAPVR) is unknown. The US FDA has liked it to use of certain antidepressant medications during pregnancy
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, and around the body.
In TAPVR, oxygenated blood returns from the lungs back to the right atrium or a vein flowing into the right atrium and NOT to the left side of heart. In other words, blood simply circles to and from the lungs and never gets out to the body.
If the infant is to live, a large atrial septal defect (ASD) or patent foramen ovale (passage between the left and right atria) must exist to allow oxygenated blood to flow to the left side of the heart and rest of the body.
The severity of this condition depends on whether the pulmonary veins are obstructed. Most often in obstructed TAVPR, the pulmonary veins run into the abdomen, passing through a muscle (diaphragm). This muscle squeezes the veins and narrows them, causing the blood to back up into the lungs. This type causes symptoms early in life and can be rapidly deadly if not recognized and surgically corrected.
The infant may appear to be critically ill and may display the following symptoms:
Frequent respiratory infections
Cyanosis (blue discoloration of the skin)
Note: Sometimes, no symptoms may be present in infancy or early childhood.
ECG shows signs of enlargement of the ventricles (ventricular hypertrophy).
X-ray of the chest shows a normal to small heart with fluid in the lungs.
Echocardiogram usually defines the attachment of pulmonary vessels.
Cardiac catheterization can provide definitive diagnosis by showing abnormal attachments of the blood vessels.
MRI of the heart can show the connections between the pulmonary vessels.
Early complete surgical repair is needed. In surgery, the pulmonary veins are connected to the left atrium and the defect between the right and left atrium is closed.
If left untreated, death may occur by age one in babies with more severe defects. With surgery, early repair provides excellent results if there is no blockage of the pulmonary veins at the new connection into the heart.
Irregular, fast heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
This condition may be apparent at the time of birth. However, symptoms may not be present until later.
There is no single known way to prevent TAPVR. Many factors, including the use of antidepressant medications during pregnancy, seem to be involved.
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.
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.