Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension, or PPHN, is a congenital birth condition characterized by lung and breathing problems occurring at birth. During pregnancy, circulation skips the lungs because the placenta is able to supply the fetus with sufficient oxygen via the umbilical cord. Typically, when a baby is born its circulation adapts and the lungs begin to inflate and aid in circulation. In babies with Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension, these systems do not adapt and blood flow continues to skip the lungs. The result is that the blood circulates and comes back to the heart without sufficient oxygenation. Sometimes PPHN corrects itself without treatment, but often it is treated through the use of a mechanical ventilator, nitrous oxide inhalation, and in sometimes surgical procedures are needed. While one definitive cause has not been established for PPHN, a mother’s ingestion of SSRI antidepressants, including Lexapro, is believed to raise the risk of a child being born with this type of congenital lung disorder.
In February of 2006, the New England Journal of Medicine used retrospective survey methods in order to investigate a potential link between SSRI antidepressants and incidence rates of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension in newborns. The study used data for over 1000 women collected between the years of 1998 and 2003.The SSRI medications included in this study were: Lexapro (escitalopram), Celexa (citalopram), Fluvoxamine, Paxil (paroxetine), Symbyax (olanzepine/fluoxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), and Zoloft (sertraline). Results of the study found that women who took an SSRI after the 20th week of gestation increased the risk of a their child being born with PPHN by 6 times, when compared with other women who did not take an SSRI. Women who took a non-SSRI form of antidepressant did not exhibit these same risk factors.
Lexapro and other SSRI medications are currently in the US Food and Drug Administration’s Pregnancy “Category C.” This classification means that “Either studies in animals have revealed adverse effects on the fetus and there are no controlled studies in women or studies in women and animals are not available. Drugs should be given only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.” Popular opinion would prefer that SSRIs (including Lexapro) be classified as a Category D drug following further review of these PPHN and other birth defect Studies. Drugs in category D demonstrate significant risk to the fetus, and many respected medical professionals feel that SSRIs fall into this category.
If you have taken Lexapro, Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, or Celexa while pregnant and given birth to a child with PPHN or other congenital birth defect, you may be legally entitled to monetary damages. Please contact the Willis Law Firm today in order to have your Lexapro Birth Defects Lawsuit evaluated confidentially and at no cost. We are currently accepting antidepressant cases nationwide on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you will incur no legal fees unless a successful recovery is secured.