Congenital Heart Defects

According to a warning by the Food and Drug Administration, children born to women who take Paxil during pregnancy are twice as likely to suffer birth defects as mothers who take other antidepressants.

The most commonly observed type of Paxil side effects cited in the FDA’s warning were atrial septal defects (ASD) and ventral septal defects (VSD), holes in the walls of the chambers of the heart. A study published by the New England Journal of Medicine also found that infants born to women who take Paxil late in pregnancy are at an increased risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). This condition can cause circulatory problems that may require surgery and can be fatal.

Other heart defects that may be caused by taking Paxil while pregnant include:

  • Cardiomyopathy: inflammation or weakening of the heart muscle or a change in the structure of the heart. This condition may cause the heart to have problems pumping blood effectively.
  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS): this rare congenital birth defect occurs when the left side of the heart (the mitral valve, left ventricle aortic valve and aorta) is underdeveloped. Newborns with this condition may exhibit a bluish color or other symptoms.
  • Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome (HRHS): similar to HLHS, children born with this type of heart defect display underdevelopment on the right side of the heart (the right atrium and right ventricle). Children with HRHS may also have a bluish appearance.
  • Tetralogy of Fallot: a combination of four heart defects that cause oxygen-poor blood to flow from the heart and into the body. Children with this condition usually have bluish skin because of their blood lacks enough oxygen.
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA): after a child is born, a special valve called ductus arteriosus—which separates the aorta and pulmonary artery in the fetus—closes, allowing blood to flow normally. For infants born with PDA, the valve fails to close normally, causing tiredness or other problems.
  • Bicuspid Aortic Valve: although the aortic valve normally has three leaflets, children born with a bicuspid aortic valve only have two. This condition may cause blood to leak or lead to narrowing of the aortic valve.
  • Tricuspid Stenosis: this condition is caused by a narrowing or blockage of the tricuspid valve, which separates the upper and lower chambers on the right side of the heart (the right ventricle and right atrium). Eventually, this can cause the right atrium to become enlarged.
  • Cleft Mitral Valve: a small slit or hole in the valve that separates the left chambers of the heart (the left ventricle and left atrium). This condition can cause blood to flow in the wrong direction (mitral regurgitation).

Families of children born with heart defects or other birth defects linked to Paxil, Zoloft and other antidepressants may be eligible to file a lawsuit. To speak with an attorney about your legal rights, contact the Paxil attorneys at Hissey Kientz, LLP by calling toll-free at 1-888-776-5552, or by filling out the free case evaluation on the right side of this page.

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