Many of the most severe side effects associated with the use of SSRI Antidepressants such as Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), Lexapro (escitalopram) and Celexa (citalopram) are congenital birth defects, including: Congenital Heart Defects, Congenital Lung Defects, Congenital Abdominal Wall Defects, Congenital Cranio-facial Defects,and other birth defects and malformations affecting various other areas of the child’s anatomy.
According to scientific studies, women who take SSRI Antidepressants such as Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), Lexapro (escitalopram) and Celexa (citalopram) are at least twice as likely to give birth to children with serious congenital heart defects. A congenital heart defect is a problem with the structure of the heart present at birth. Congenital heart defects are the most common type of major birth defect. A baby’s heart begins to develop shortly after conception and during the first tri-mester. During development, structural defects can occur. These defects can involve the walls of the heart, the valves of the heart and the arteries and veins to and from the heart. Congenital heart defects can disrupt the normal flow of blood through the heart, lungs and body.
Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) is a condition in which a blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus fails to close normally in an infant soon after birth. (The word “patent” means open.) The condition leads to abnormal blood flow between the aorta and pulmonary artery, two major blood vessels that carry blood from the heart.
Before birth, the ductus arteriosus allows blood to bypass the baby’s lungs by connecting the pulmonary arteries (which supply blood to the lungs) with the aorta (which supplies blood to the body). Soon after the infant is born and the lungs fill with air, this blood vessel is no longer needed. It will usually close within a couple of days. If the ductus arteriosus does not close, there will be abnormal blood circulation between the heart and lungs. PDA affects girls more often than boys. The condition is more common in premature infants and those with neonatal respiratory distress syndrome. Infants with genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome, and whose mothers had rubella during pregnancy are at higher risk for PDA. PDA is common in babies with congenital heart problems, such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, transposition of the great vessels, and pulmonary stenosis.
A small PDA may not cause any symptoms. However, some infants may not tolerate a PDA, especially if it is large, and may have symptoms such as:
Poor feeding habits
Shortness of breath
Sweating while feeding
Tiring very easily
Babies with PDA often have a characteristic heart murmur that can be heard with a stethoscope. However, in premature infants, a heart murmur may not be heard. Doctor’s may suspect the condition if the infant has breathing or feeding problems soon after birth. Changes may be seen on chest x-rays. The diagnosis is confirmed with an echocardiogram. Sometimes, a small PDA may not be diagnosed until later in childhood.
The goal of treatment, if the rest of circulation is normal or close to normal, is to close the PDA. In the presence of certain other heart problems, such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, the PDA may actually be lifesaving and medicine may be used to prevent it from closing. Sometimes, a PDA may close on its own. Premature babies have a high rate of closure within the first 2 years of life. In full-term infants, a PDA rarely closes on its own after the first few weeks. When treatment is appropriate, medications such as indomethacin or a special form of ibuprofen are generally the first choice. If these measures do not work or can’t be used, a medical procedure may be needed. A transcatheter device closure is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a thin, hollow tube. The doctor passes a small metal coil or other blocking device through the catheter to the site of the PDA. This blocks blood flow through the vessel. Such endovascular coils have been used successfully as an alternative to surgery. Surgery may be needed if the catheter procedure does not work or cannot be used. Surgery involves making a small cut between the ribs to repair the PDA.
If a small PDA remains open, heart symptoms may or may not eventually develop. Persons with a moderate or large PDA could eventually develop heart problems unless the PDA is closed. Closure with medications can work very well in some situations, with few side effects. Early treatment with medications is more likely to be successful. Surgery carries its own significant risks. It may eliminate some of the problems of a PDA, but it can also introduce a new set of problems. The potential benefits and risks should be weighed carefully before choosing surgery.
If the patent ductus is not closed, the infant has a risk of developing heart failure, pulmonary artery hypertension, or infective endocarditis — an infection of the inner lining of the heart.
This condition is usually diagnosed by a doctor examining your infant. Breathing and feeding problems in an infant can occasionally be due to an undiagnosed PDA.
Preventing preterm deliveries, where possible, is the most effective way to prevent PDA.
There are distinct differences between an SSRI Antidepressant (Zoloft – sertraline, Paxil – paroxetine, Prozac – fluoxetine, Lexapro – escitalopram and Celexa – citalopram) class action lawsuit and a more typical individual SSRI lawsuit. A SSRI class action lawsuit would be a form of SSRI lawsuit in which a large group of people (plaintiffs) collectively bring a lawsuit to court in the form of a “class action” against the manufacturers of the SSRI antidepressant (defendant). In a class action lawsuit involving personal injury, resulting from defective products such as antidepressant SSRI drugs like Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), Lexapro (escitalopram) and Celexa (citalopram), all SSRI lawsuit plaintiffs would typically be grouped together into a single SSRI class action lawsuit, regardless of the degree or severity of their birth defect injuries. In this type of SSRI class action lawsuit, plaintiffs with injuries ranging from minor heart murmurs not requiring surgery, all the way to the most severe congenital heart defects, requiring multiple surgeries or a complete heart transplant, would be grouped into one single SSRI class action lawsuit. All plaintiffs in the class would equally share any award or settlement resulting from the SSRI class action lawsuit.
In SSRI antidepressant lawsuits involving catastrophic injury or death, an individual lawsuit, in most cases, is more appropriate and in the plaintiff’s best interest. SSRI antidepressants like Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro and Paxil, have been linked to some of the severe congenital heart defects listed above, including: atrial septal defects (ASD – hole in the heart), ventricular septal defects (VSD – hole in the heart), 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). SSRI antidepressant cases such as these are better suited to an individual SSRI antidepressant lawsuit because of the severity and degree of injury to the plaintiff. In an individual SSRI lawsuit, each plaintiff’s case is filed, presented and considered individually, based on its own strength and degree of injury.
In many cases involving SSRI antidepressants like Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil and the serious congenital heart defects related to these SSRI antidepressants, surgery is required. Heart surgery will typically be required when a child is an infant or toddler and then again, potentially multiple times, as the child grows to maturity. In many cases, with surgery and medical care, children may be able to lead mostly normal and productive lives. An individual SSRI lawsuit allows each SSRI victim, their injuries and their future needs to be considered on an individual basis when determining damages, awards and settlement amounts, and not as part of a class action lawsuit.
If you took Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Celexa (citalopram), Lexapro (escitalopram) or any another SSRI antidepressant drug during pregnancy and your child was born with a congenital heart, lung or other birth defect, we encourage you to contact an SSRI Antidepressant Lawsuit Attorney at our law firm immediately. It may be too late to recover from the devastating effects of Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Lexapro and Celexa but an experienced pharmaceutical products liability lawyer at the Willis Law Firm can assist you in legal action against the makers of these dangerous antidepressant drugs. You are not alone. Join other birth defect victims and their families in speaking up and fighting for your legal rights.
Please fill out our free online legal evaluation form and we will contact you within 24 hours, or call our offices at 1-800-883-9858 for immediate help. Please keep in mind that certain states have statutes of limitation that limit the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit or seek legal action. Contact our law firm immediately so that we may explain the rights and options available to you and your family.