Effexor and Pregnancy

June 20, 2012

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. This link between Effexor (venlafaxine) and congenital heart defects has many concerned that pregnant women should not be prescribed the antidepressant medication Effexor. In addition to serious congenital Heart Birth Defects, SSRIs like Effexor, Zoloft and Paxil have also been linked to increased risk of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN).

What is Effexor?

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).

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.

Effexor and Pregnancy Heart Defects

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.

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.

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 during pregnancy. There are risks associated with taking Effexor during pregnancy, 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.

Effexor and Pregnancy: Speak to an Effexor Lawyer

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.

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