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Antidepressant Birth Defects

Antidepressant drugs including Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, Celexa, Effexor, Xanax and Wellbutrin have been linked to an increased risk of birth defects in newborns when taken by their mothers during pregnancy. Several studies have found that children born to mothers who took antidepressants while pregnant may face an increased risk of serious heart defects, congenital malformations or other birth defects.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in July 2006 about the heart defects risk caused by using antidepressants during pregnancy. According to a study published that month, women who used a type of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)—which includes Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, Effexor, Lexapro and Paxil—were six times more likely to give birth to a child with primary pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). PPHN is a serious circulatory condition that may require surgery and can be fatal.

Two additional studies published by the New England Journal of Medicine in June 2007 found a risk of other serious birth defects among pregnant women who used SSRI antidepressants. In one study, the use of SSRIs during the first trimester of pregnancy was associated with roughly twice the risk of birth defects including clubfoot, anal atresia, diaphragmatic hernia or limb-reduction defects. Individual SSRIs were also associated with an increased risk of cleft lip, cleft palate, pyloric stenosis, neural-tube defects and other birth defects.

In the second study—known as the National Birth Defects Prevention Study—researchers found that pregnant women who took SSRIs were more than twice as likely to give birth to children with certain types of birth defects as women who did not take SSRIs. These conditions included anencephaly (birth without a forebrain), craniosynostosis (premature closing of sutures of the skull) and omphalocele (babies born with organs outside the body).

Researchers have also identified an increased risk of heart defects among children born to mothers who took Wellbutrin. A July 2010 study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that children born with left outflow tract heart defects were more than twice as likely to have mothers who took Wellbutrin during pregnancy.

If you or a loved one took antidepressants such as Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, Celexa, Effexor, Xanax or Wellbutrin during pregnancy and gave birth to a child with heart defects or other birth defects, contact the attorneys at Hissey Kientz, LLP to learn more about your legal rights. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-888-776-5552, or by filling out a free case evaluation form on the right of this page.

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