Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS)

Children born to women who took Paxil or other antidepressants during pregnancy have been diagnosed with a type of congenital heart defect known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). This condition can cause serious illness due to the heart’s inability to effectively pump blood throughout the body.

In children who are born with HLHS, the left side of the heart—including the aorta, ventricle, mitral valve and aortic valve—is underdeveloped. As a result, the left side of the heart is unable to pump blood to the rest of the body, and the right side of the heart is forced to circulate blood to both the lungs and body. Without surgery, this increased workload will eventually cause the right side of the heart to fail.

Although babies with HLHS may appear normal at first, symptoms of this condition usually develop within the first hours of life. Symptoms that a child may have HLHS include:

  • Bluish or poor skin color in the chest or abdomen
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Problems suckling or feeding
  • Poor pulse
  • Pounding heart

The left side of the heart is underdeveloped.

Children with HLHS are often born with foramen ovale (a hole between the right and left atrium) or patent ductus arteriosus (failure to close of a small blood vessel that connects the aorta to the pulmonary artery).

Doctors who suspect a child may have HLHS will conduct an examination or perform imaging tests in order to diagnose the condition. If these tests are positive, surgeons will perform a series of three operations—known as the Norwood operation, the Glenn shunt procedure and the Fontan procedure—which will allow the heart to more effectively pump blood throughout the body. In some cases, a heart transplant will be performed instead.

If you used Paxil, Zoloft or other SSRI antidepressants while pregnant, contact the law firm of Hissey Kientz, LLP to learn more about your rights. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-888-776-5552, or by filling out the free case evaluation form located on the right of this page.

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