Although neural tube defects are one of the most frequently occurring forms of birth defects, this does not make their incidence any less difficult for new parents to come to terms with. The prescription SNRI antidepressant Effexor has been linked to this category of congenital defect and is believed to increase their occurrence by alarming rates when taken during pregnancy. As a pregnancy “Category C” drug, Effexor is still being used in the treatment of anxiety and depression in pregnant women, despite evidence of risk to the fetus in animal reproductive studies. Other antidepressants that have been linked to similar birth defects include: Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, Prozac, and Celexa. Lawsuits have been filed against the makers of all of these various prescriptions, and as more research takes place, further litigation is expected.
A neural tube defect happens when there is any opening in the spinal cord or brain; the process of fusion of the neural tube happens very early in pregnancy, so it is extremely sensitive to environmental factors, like the substances ingested by the expectant mother. Two types of Neural Tube Defects that have been linked to prenatal use of Effexor include: Anencephaly and Spina Bifida.
Anencephaly is a particularly devastating type of neural tube defect that happens when the top of the neural tube fails to seal; the result is missing parts of both the skull and the brain. If born with Effexor Anencephaly, an infant will most likely be deaf, blind, and fail to ever gain consciousness. Unfortunately, there is no treatment currently available for this disorder, and the child will either be stillborn or die shortly following birth. August 2011 data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study suggests that anencephaly is 6.1 times more likely to occur in infants exposed to Effexor (venlafaxine) prior to birth.
When the sides of the spine fail to close and cover the spinal cord, spina bifida (or myelomeningocele/cleft spine) is present. Spina bifida can vary in severity, and unlike anencephaly, there are various treatment options (including surgery) that are available. Unfortunately, the nerve/neurological damage that accompany spina bifida are typically irreversible. Spina bifida can also worsen over time. The National Birth Defects Prevention Study mentioned above found that the risk of spina bifida was doubled when a mother took Effexor while pregnant.
Despite being a more common form of birth defect, neural tube defects can be very scary and potentially devastating to the families they affect. If your child was born with a neural tube defect following prenatal exposure to an antidepressant medication (including Effexor), you should call the Willis Law Firm today in order to discuss the option of an Effexor Neural Tube Defect Lawsuit. Your family may be legally entitled to a substantial amount of financial assistance. Call us today, and we will provide a free initial case evaluation completely free of obligation.