Recent studies, including one published in the New England Journal of Medicine, have discovered a link between SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants and an increased risk of developing severe birth defects. The study established that mothers who took any of the following drugs during their pregnancy increased the risk that their child would be born with a birth defect: Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Depakote, Effexor, and Pristiq.

antidepressant pillsSSRI antidepressants are prescribed to treat depression and anxiety in adults, by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. Evidence suggests that the use of an SSRI antidepressant during pregnancy may affect the unborn child’s development and lead to birth defects. A New England Journal of Medicine study found that specific SSRIs increased the risk of specific birth defects in children exposed to the drugs in utero. Of these birth defects, primary pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) is one of the most severe.

The study found that the likelihood that a mother giving birth to a baby with PPHN increased by a factor of six when the baby was exposed to SSRI during the third trimester when compared with women who did not take SSRIs during pregnancy. PPHN is a disorder of the lungs in which the arteries are severely restricted, causing the blood pressure in the pulmonary artery of the heart to rise to excessive levels. Blood flow is restricted and oxygen levels in the blood are suppressed. The baby’s organs, such as the brain, kidneys and liver quickly become stressed due to lack of oxygen. PPHN is usually diagnosed within 12 hours of delivery.

PPHN is only one of many serious defects linked with SSRIs. Below is a list of SSRIs and the corresponding birth defects.

Depakote: Depakote exposure during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of:

  • Spina bifida
  • Cleft palate
  • Limb malformation
  • Genital malformation
  • Undescended testes
  • Hypospadia
  • Heart malformation
  • Dysplastic ribs
  • Neural tube malformations
  • Death of the infant

Effexor: Effexor has been linked to the following birth defects when infants are exposed to the drug in utero:

  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN)
  • Central nervous system problems
  • Respiratory issues
  • Digestive system problems
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Behavioral issues
  • Withdrawal

Topamax: Topamax has been linked to the following birth defects:

  • Cleft palate and cleft lip
  • Genital malformation
  • Other malformations

Wellbutrin: Wellbutrin has been linked to the following birth defects when an infant is exposed to the drug during pregnancy:

  • Cardiac birth defects
  • Narrowing of the main artery in the heart

If your child has been diagnosed with a birth defect and was exposed to an SSRI antidepressant during pregnancy, you and your child may be entitled to compensation. The law firm of d’Oliveira & Associates may be able to help you file a lawsuit against the manufacturers of Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, Effexor, Depakote, Topamax, Wellbutrin or Zoloft to compensate for your child’s birth defect.

Please contact the law offices of d’Oliveira & Associates at 1-800-992-6878 or fill out a contact form for a free legal consultation.