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.
Atrial septal defect (ASD) is a congenital heart defect in which the wall that separates the upper heart chambers (atria) does not close completely (holes in the heart wall). Congenital means the defect is present at birth.
In fetal circulation, there is normally an opening between the two atria (the upper chambers of the heart) to allow blood to bypass the lungs. This opening usually closes around the time the baby is born. If the ASD is persistent, blood continues to flow from the left to the right atria. This is called a shunt. If too much blood moves to the right side of the heart, pressures in the lungs build up. The shunt can be reversed so that blood flows from right to left. Many problems can occur if the shunt is large, but small atrial septal defects often cause very few problems and may be found much later in life.
ASD is not very common. When the person has no other congenital defect, symptoms may be absent, particularly in children. Symptoms may begin any time after birth through childhood. Individuals with ASD are at an increased risk for developing a number of complications including:
Atrial fibrillation (in adults)
Small to moderate sized defects may produce no symptoms, or not until middle age or later. Symptoms that may occur can include:
Difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
Frequent respiratory infections in children
Sensation of feeling the heart beat (palpitations) in adults
Shortness of breath with activity
Exams and Tests
The doctor may hear abnormal heart sounds when listening to the chest with a stethoscope. A murmur may be heard only in certain body positions, and sometimes a murmur may not be heard at all. The physical exam may also reveal signs of heart failure in some adults. If the shunt is large, increased blood flow across the tricuspid valve may create an additional murmur when the heart relaxes between beats.
Tests that may done include:
Coronary angiography (for patients over 35 years old)
Doppler study of the heart
Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE)
ASD may not require treatment if there are few or no symptoms, or if the defect is small. Surgical closure of the defect is recommended if the defect is large, the heart is swollen, or symptoms occur. A procedure has been developed to close the defect without surgery. The procedure involves placing an ASD closure device into the heart through tubes called catheters. The health care provider makes a tiny surgical cut in the groin, then inserts the catheters into a blood vessel and up into the heart. The closure device is then placed across the ASD and the defect is closed. Not all patients with atrial septal defects can have this procedure. Prophylactic (preventive) antibiotics should be given prior to dental procedures to reduce the risk of developing infective endocarditis immediately after surgery for the ASD, but they are not required later on.
With a small to moderate atrial septal defect, a person may live a normal life span without symptoms. Larger defects may cause disability by middle age because of increased blood flow and shunting of blood back into the pulmonary circulation.
Arrhythmias, particularly atrial fibrillation
There is no known way to prevent the defect, but some of the complications can be prevented with early detection.
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.