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.
Double inlet left ventricle (DILV) is a congenital heart defect that affects the valves and chambers of the heart. Congenital means it is present from birth. Babies born with this condition have only one working lower chamber (ventricle) in their heart.
DILV is one of several heart defects known as single (or common) ventricle defects. People with this condition generally have a large left ventricle (the pumping chamber of the heart that supplies the body with blood), and a small right ventricle (the pumping chamber that supplies the lungs with blood).
In the normal heart, the right and left lower chambers (ventricles) receive blood from the right and left upper chambers (atria). Oxygen-poor blood returning from the body flows to the right atrium and right ventricle. The right ventricle then pumps blood to the pulmonary artery, which carries blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen.
The blood, now oxygen rich, returns to the left atrium and left ventricle. The aorta than carries oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body from the left ventricle.
However, in those with DILV, only the left lower heart chamber is developed, and both upper chambers carry blood into this ventricle. This means that oxygen-rich blood mixes with oxygen-poor blood. The mixture is then carried into the body and the lungs.
DILV can occur with transposition of the great vessels (in which the aorta arises from the small right ventricle and the pulmonary artery arises from the left ventricle), or it can occur with the arteries arising from their normal positions. Blood flows from the left to right ventricle through a ventricular septal defect (VSD) — a hole between the chambers.
Double inlet left ventricle occurs in about 5 – 10 of 100,000 live births. The problem most likely occurs early in the pregnancy, when the baby’s heart develops.
Patients with DILV often also have other heart problems, such as:
•Coarctation of the aorta
•Pulmonary valve stenosis
•Becoming tired easily, especially during feeding
•Bluish skin color (the lips may also be blue)
•Failure to gain weight and grow
•Pale skin (pallor)
•Swollen legs or abdomen
Exams and Tests
Signs of DILV may include:
•Abnormal heart rhythm, as seen on an electrocardiogram
•Build-up of fluid around the lungs
Tests to diagnose DILV may include:
•Measurement of the electrical activity in the heart (electrocardiogram, or ECG)
•Passing a thin, flexible tube into the heart to examine the arteries (cardiac catheterization)
•Ultrasound exam of the heart (echocardiogram)
•Using magnets to create images of the heart (MRI)
Surgery is needed to improve blood circulation through the body and into the lungs. The most common surgeries to treat DILV are the ones leading up to the Fontan operation, which may require several stages. (Each stage in the Fontan procedure is a separate surgery.)
These surgeries are similar to the ones used to treat hypoplastic left hearthypoplastic left heart syndrome and tricuspid atresia.
The first surgery may be needed within the baby’s first few days of life. Afterward, the baby will usually go home. The child will need to take one or more daily medications and be closely followed by a pediatric cardiologist, who will decide when the second stage of surgery should be done.
The next surgery (or first surgery, if the baby didn’t need the procedure mentioned above) is called the bidirectional Glenn shunt or Hemifontan procedure. This surgery is usually done when the child is 4 – 6 months old.
After the child has had the above operations, he or she may still look blue (cyanotic). The final step is called the Fontan procedure. This surgery is usually performed when the child is 18 months – 3 years old. After this final step, the baby is no longer cyanotic.
The Fontan operation does not create normal circulation in the body, but it creates the type of circulation a child can live and grow with. However, even this surgery carries many risks and complications.
A child may need additional types of surgeries for related defects or to extend survival while waiting for the Fontan procedure.
The doctor may prescribe your child medication before and after surgery. Medications may include:
•Anticoagulants to prevent blood clotting
•ACE inhibitors to reduce blood pressure
•Digoxin to help the heart contract
For the most severe cases of DILV, a heart transplant may be recommended.
Children with this congenital heart disease should take antibiotics before dental treatment. This prevents infections around the heart.
DILV is usually a very complex, hard-to-treat heart defect. How well the baby does depends on several factors. They include:
•Baby’s overall condition at the time of diagnosis and treatment
•Presence of other heart abnormalities
•Severity of the defect
Advances in surgical techniques allow many infants with DILV to reach adulthood. However, many of these children and adults require regular follow-ups, face many complications, and may be limited in the type of physical activities they can pursue.
Possible complications of DILV include:
•Clubbing (thickening of the nail beds) on toes and fingers (late sign)
•Congestive heart failure
•Heart rhythm problems
•High blood pressure in the lungs
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if your child seems to tire easily, has trouble breathing, or has bluish skin or lips. You should also consult your health care provider if your baby is not growing or gaining weight.
There is no known prevention.
DILV; Single ventricle; Common ventricle
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.