Effexor (venlafaxine) is a prescription medication that was introduced by the pharmaceutical company Wyeth in the mid 1990’s. Effexor is in the SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) class of antidepressants, which means that it works by balancing levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Both of these substances are believed to influence mood, so their regulation can be used in the treatment of both depression and anxiety disorders. Unfortunately, respected medical research studies have linked Effexor use during pregnancy to a long list of potential birth defects. One of these defects is a congenital (present from birth) heart condition called Atrial Septal Defect (ASD). Other antidepressant medications thought to increase possibility of ASD include: Lexapro, Zoloft, Paxil, and Prozac.
Atrial Septal Defect is a heart condition present in newborn babies and has been linked to taking Effexor while pregnant. When the boundary between atria (chambers of top heart section) does not seal resulting in a hole between upper chambers, ASD is present. During fetal development this border does not need to be fully closed, but after birth this opening can result in the following symptoms: dyspnea (trouble breathing), heart palpitations in adulthood, reoccurring respiratory issues, and breathlessness during physical activity. Treatment for Effexor ASD varies depending on the size of the opening between atria, but treatment options include surgery as well as the use of catheters.
Although Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) is a rare form of congenital heart defect, the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (NBDPS) found it to be one of several birth defects associated with prenatal use of venlafaxine (Effexor). Others were: Anencephaly, Gastroschisis, Cleft Palate, Left ventricular outflow tract obstructions, and Coarctation of the Aorta. Although the NBDPS will perform further research for confirmation, these findings were consistent with several prior studies. The FDA currently has Effexor in pregnancy category C, meaning that potential risk to fetus has been show in animal studies. In 2005, Paxil (another popular antidepressant) was changed to Category D, meaning that there is positive evidence of risk to the human fetus.
When a baby is born with an Atrial Septal defect, there is a possibility that the child will have a normal quality of life. However, there is also an unfortunate, but very real chance that the child will require a lifetime of medical treatment, as well as the possibility of disability in adulthood. We believe that the companies distributing these potentially harmful antidepressants, including Effexor, should bear the financial responsibility for the harm that these prescriptions cause. If your child was born with a birth defect and the mother took an antidepressant while pregnant, contact the Willis Law Firm today. When you call, we will provide you with a confidential Effexor Lawsuit evaluation free of cost and free of obligation. Call us today; you may have a legal right to financial compensation.