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Paxil During Pregnancy

Despite the birth defects risk in the children born to mothers who take Paxil during pregnancy, experts have believed for years that the risk of taking women off of antidepressants while pregnant outweighed the danger of birth defects. But in light of recent studies examining the potential link between Paxil and birth defects, many experts now believe that the risk of side effects to the fetus posed by Paxil is too great to allow the drug to be taken by pregnant women.

Studies have found that Paxil can increase the risk of birth defects whether taken during the first trimester or later in pregnancy. Two studies published in 2005 found that when taken during the first three months of pregnancy, Paxil doubles the risk of birth defects in newborns. The most commonly recorded type of birth defects in these studies were atrial septal defects (ASD) and ventricular septal defects (VSD), holes in the walls separating the chambers of the heart.

Another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that women who take antidepressants such as Paxil after the 20th week of pregnancy are six times more likely to give birth to children with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). Infants born with this condition experience severe circulatory problems that can lead to hospitalization or death.

In response to these studies, the Food and Drug Administration upgraded the pregnancy category for Paxil from C to D. Category D drug are those which have been shown to cause harm to the fetus in scientific studies.

Paxil may also be linked to other types of congenital birth defects in children born to mothers who took the antidepressant while pregnant, including a cleft mitral valve, hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), hypoplastic right heart syndrome (HRHS), bicuspid aortic valve, tricuspid  stenosis, cardiomyopathy, craniosynostosis, patent ductus arteriosus, club foot, limb reductions, omphalocele, spina bifida and anencephaly.

Although studies examining the side effects of Paxil have prompted the FDA to issue multiple warnings about the drug, neither the agency or its manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, have announced plans to issue a Paxil recall.

If you or a loved one took Paxil, Zoloft or other antidepressants during pregnancy and gave birth to a baby with heart defects or birth defects, contact the attorneys at the law firm of 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 our free case evaluation form on the right of this page.

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