The popular antidepressant medication Effexor (Venlafaxine) has been linked to various birth defects including septal defects, including both ventricular and atrial. Effexor is in the class of antidepressants called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SNRIs, and since its introduction in the 90’s has been prescribed to over 17 million patients for the treatment of both depressive and anxiety disorders. Effexor is currently labeled by the United States Food and Drug Administration as Pregnancy class C, meaning that animal studies demonstrate potential harm to a developing fetus when taken while pregnant. According to the FDA, there have not been sufficient studies performed regarding antidepressants and their effects on pregnant women. However, several key studies outline below may lead to a change in this statement.
One of the congenital heart disorders associated with the maternal ingestion of Effexor during pregnancy is called ventricular septal defect, interventricular septal defect, or simply VSD. VSD occurs when the boundary separating the left ventricle from the right ventricle does not fully seal, and at least one hole exists in this wall. When a ventricular septal defect is present, infants require close medical supervision in order to be certain that the signals of heart failure do not exhibit. Infants with VSD may require medicine for their symptoms as well as surgical procedures in order to close the holes. Serious complications can occur if a large interventricular septal defect is left untreated.
While a definitive cause of ventricular septal defects is unknown, an August 2011 report by the National Birth Defects Prevention Study found an association between fetal ingestion of Effexor and several birth defects, one of which was septal defects. The study also found increased risk of coarctation of the aorta, left ventricular outflow tract obstructions, anencephaly, cleft palate, and gastroschisis. These findings support the data collected by several previous research projects including:
Clinical Epidemiology: Found connection between antidepressants used during pregnancy and higher risks of congenital heart disease. (2010)
American Journal of Nursing: Found increased chance of atrial and ventricular heart problems when infants exposed to an antidepressant medication.(2010)
New England Journal of Medicine: In utero antidepressant exposure augments risk of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension – another heart/lung birth disorder (2006). Another set of NEJM studies found increased risks of cleft palate, neural tube defects, cleft lip, anecephaly, omphalocele, anal atresia, limb reductions, club foot, and other malformations. (2007)
Da-Silva Study: Found adverse effects when rat fetuses were exposed to Effexor/Venlafaxine (1999).
If your child was born with ventricular septal defect (VSD) or other congenital defect and the mother was exposed to Effexor or other antidepressant during any part of the pregnancy, you may be eligible for an Effexor birth defects lawsuit. Contact the Willis Law Firm immediately, so that we can evaluate your potential claim and provide you with all the information you will need in the filing of an antidepressant lawsuit. We are currently taking antidepressant lawsuits nationwide; let us help you with your prospective Effexor lawsuit today.