Zoloft Birth Defects
Zoloft is one of the most popular antidepressants of all time, with tens of millions of people having taken the drug since it was released in 1991. Unfortunately, researchers have now linked it to several serious birth defects in infants of mothers who took the drug during pregnancy.
Over the past several years, reports have linked Zoloft Birth Defects to heart and lung defects, Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of Newborns (PPHN), neural tube defects of the spine and brain, and skeletal, cranial and facial defects.
Below we will take a look at the risks for these different conditions as well as what to look for in your child to know if they may have been affected.
If you gave birth to a child with any type of Zoloft Birth Defects, it is important to learn your legal options. A claim for damages can provide valuable support for their treatment and future well-being. Time to file, however, is limited.
Zoloft is a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) class antidepressant. These medications work by changing the level of chemical neurotransmitters in the brain which partially prevents the re-absorption of serotonin and increases mood levels. Other examples of SSRI drugs are Paxil, Prozac, Celexa and Lexapro.
Zoloft Heart Defects
The FDA first issued a warning that SSRI drugs like Zoloft could cause heart defects in December of 2005. Based on the results of two separate studies, the FDA cautioned that taking the similar drug Paxil during the first trimester of pregnancy could increase the risk of heart defects.
The studies showed that the most common of these heart defects were atrial septal defects (ASD) and ventral septal defects (VSD). Both are characterized by holes in the wall of heart chambers and are potentially serious or fatal conditions.
It has now been shown that SSRI drugs like Zoloft can double the risk of these types of heart defects in some cases.
The symptoms of heart defects in infants can include a weak pulse, rapid or irregular breathing, a bluish tone to the skin (cyanosis), ecstatic heart beat, shortness of breath and cold hands or feet.
Zoloft PPHN and Lung Defects
In 2006 The New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a study which indicated that certain SSRI drugs including Zoloft caused an increased risk of serious lung defects like Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN).
The results were based on a study conducted at the University of California at San Diego in 2006. Researchers discovered that women who had taken Zoloft following their twentieth week of pregnancy had a 600% increase in the risk of giving birth to a child with PPHN.
PPHN is a serious and sometimes fatal lung condition in which an infant’s circulatory system does not adjust to breathing outside of the womb after birth. It also results in high blood pressure in the newborn lungs which restricts new oxygen-rich blood from entering.
Babies suffering from PPHN may have similar symptoms to those with heart defects, including heart murmurs, rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, respiratory distress, cyanosis, or bluish tinting of the skin, and low oxygen levels.
Zoloft Neural Tube Defects
Severe neural tube defects, which include birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, have also been attributed to Zoloft Birth Defects. These are some of the most feared birth defects as they often result in permanent brain damage, paralysis or even early death.
The two most common neural tube defects are conditions called spina bifida and anencephaly.
Spina bifida is a disorder in which an infant’s spinal column does not fully develop during pregnancy, resulting in nerve damage and sometimes paralysis of the legs. Anencephaly is a condition in which a large portion of the brain fails to develop. This often results in infants being stillborn or dying shortly after birth.
A study released by the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 linked SSRI drugs with anencephaly. SSRI drugs like Zoloft can increase the risk of both spina bifida and anencephaly birth defects even if taken early during a pregnancy as this is the crucial time for brain and spinal cord development.
Zoloft Cranial & Facial Birth Defects
Several studies have linked SSRI drugs and Zoloft Birth Defects with abnormalities of the face and skull such as cleft lips and palates, as well as craniosynostosis.
Clefts, or gaps in facial features, can occur in several areas of the face but are usually found in the upper lip or palate of the mouth. They are caused when the facial structures of a fetus fail to form completely before birth. While clefts can be fixed with surgery soon after birth, they can lead to pain, discomfort and psychosocial issues in children.
Craniosynostosis is a birth defect characterized by an irregularly shaped head that is caused when the sutures connecting the individual bones of the skull fuse earlier than normal.
Studies released by both the National Birth Defects Prevention Study of Infants and New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 related cranial defects such as craniosynostosis with Zoloft and other SSRI drugs.
Zoloft Abdominal Defects
Recent studies have also identified abdominal defects as possible Zoloft Birth Defects in infants of women who took SSRI drugs during pregnancy.
Both the New England Journal of Medicine and National Birth Defects Prevention Study of Infants released data in 2007 showing an increased risk of omphalocele in infants among expectant mothers taking the drug.
Omphalocele is a severe birth defect around the base of an infant’s umbilical cord which causes the protrusion of a sac containing the small and large intestines as well as the liver.
The condition is caused by the failure of the abdominal muscles to fully develop and is often found along with other birth defects such as heart defects. Omphalocele may be repaired through major invasive surgeries but can take years to fix and leave significant scars.
Zoloft Club Foot
The Institute of Reproductive Toxicology at the University of Ulm, Germany as well as the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University have recently published studies showing women who took SSRIs like Zoloft while pregnant gave birth to infants with club feet.
Club foot is a malformation of the bones, joints, muscles, and blood vessels in a child’s lower leg or foot which causes the foot to be locked in an inturned position. Although not always painful, the condition must be fixed to allow mobility for the child as they grow older.
Club foot may be repaired through surgery but is nowadays often repaired through extensive and long term stretching, casting and bracing.
If you took Zoloft during pregnancy and your child was born with a birth defect, it is important for you to learn your legal options to help with their recovery. Contact us today for more information and to discuss your case.