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Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN)

The Food and Drug Administration has warned that the use of antidepressants such as Paxil during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). Women who use Paxil or other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) after the 20th week of pregnancy are six times more likely to give birth to a child with PPHN, a serious and potentially deadly circulatory condition.

When a baby is in the womb, a special blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus carries blood from the pulmonary artery and sends it directly back to the heart, bypassing the lungs. Usually, the ductus arteriosus closes when a baby starts breathing air, allowing the pulmonary artery to carry blood to the lungs, where it can be enriched with oxygen.

However, in children born with PPHN, the ductus arteriosus fails to close (patent ductus arteriosus, or PDA). As a result, even though the newborn is breathing, the oxygen being inhaled fails to reach the bloodstream. If the infant’s body continues to be deprived of oxygen, other serious conditions may develop, including heart failure, seizures, kidney failure, brain hemorrhages, shock, organ damage or death.

Although doctors have developed effective forms of surgery and other medical treatments for PPHN, many children born with this condition will experience lifelong physical or developmental problems, including breathing problems, seizure disorders, delays in development, hearing problems and neurological deficits.

If you or a loved one used antidepressants such as Zoloft or Paxil while pregnant and gave birth to a child with PPHN or other congenital heart defects, contact the attorneys at Hissey Kientz, LLP to learn more about your legal rights. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-866-275-4454, or by filling out the free case evaluation form to the right of this page.

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