Studies Are Showing Drug Exposure of SSRI, Antidepressants and Anticonvulsants During Pregnancy May Cause Severe Birth Defects including Spina Bifida, Cleft Palate/Lip, Limb Defects and other severe Neural Tube Birth Defects.
Most consumers assume that they are not exposing themselves to any serious dangers by taking their pharmaceutical medications which have been prescribed to them by their healthcare provider. Unfortunately, there are a number of drugs currently on the market which have the potential to cause a birth defect or birth defects to infants who are exposed to the drugs while the mom is pregnant, some of which may fail to include a warning concerning these dangers. Although all new medications are required to undergo and pass intensive clinical trials before they can be approved by the FDA, some pharmaceutical companies may conceal the more serious side effects of their drugs in order to expedite the FDA approval process. Under these circumstances, consumers are not fully aware of the adverse side effects associated with their medications, and are therefore extremely vulnerable to injury, illness or even death as a result.
Anticonvulsant and Antidepressant Lawsuits Are Being Filed
“The life changing side effects of antidepressants during pregnancy and anticonvulsants during pregnancy can be life altering to a family and absolutely devastating to a child with a birth defect…”
Anticonvulsant and antidepressant drugs in particular are the subjects of significant scrutiny recently, because of research which has identified the use of these drugs during pregnancy as a risk factor for the development of severe and even fatal birth defects among infants. Anticonvulsant drugs like Depakote, Dilantin, Tegretol and Topamax are typically prescribed to individuals suffering from epilepsy, seizure disorders, migraine headaches, or bipolar disorder, but are also often used for off-label purposes, such as treatment for nerve pain and anxiety disorders. Some of the antidepressant drugs which may be linked to major birth defects include Celexa, Lexapro, Pristiq, Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor, and Prozac. These medications are used in the treatment of major depressive disorder and other conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.
FDA Warnings for Potential Birth Defect Risk
According to recent studies, anticonvulsant and antidepressant drugs may be the cause of life-altering side effects present in some newborn children. The FDA has issued safety announcements warning patients and healthcare professionals about the teratogenicity of some of these medications, which is defined as the potential for the drugs to interfere with the development of a fetus in utero, resulting in fetal malformations. In fact, the FDA has developed a system of pregnancy categories which the agency applies to all dangerous drugs in order to accurately classify the level of danger associated with the medications. Pregnancy category C medications are those which may cause harm to a human fetus when taken during pregnancy, and pregnancy category D medications are those which positive human evidence has demonstrated may cause harm to a human fetus when taken during pregnancy. Overall, the FDA has advised healthcare providers to avoid prescribing a pregnancy category C or D medication to pregnant women unless the possible benefits of the drug justify the potential risks to the fetus.
Anticonvulsants, Antidepressants, Birth Defects
There have been numerous credible medical studies in recent years which have indicated a potential connection between the use of anticonvulsant or antidepressant drugs and the development of severe birth defects among infants exposed to the medications in utero. Among the birth defects allegedly associated with anticonvulsant drugs like Depakote, Dilantin, Topamax and Tegretol are:
These birth defects have the potential to cause long-term pain and suffering for an affected child, and sometimes even death. These birth defects may also saddle victims and their families with overwhelming physical, emotional and financial burdens. Some of the birth defects potentially linked to the use of antidepressant drugs like Celexa, Lexapro, Zoloft, Prozac, Pristiq, Effexor, and Paxil, during pregnancy include:
Anticonvulsant, Antidepressant Use and Pregnancy
Taking these anticonvulsant or antidepressant drugs while pregnant may cause adverse side effects for infants exposed to the drugs in utero. If you are currently taking one or more of these medications and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your physician as soon as possible. It may be dangerous to discontinue use of a prescription medication without medical consent, but with your doctor’s help, you can find a safer method of treatment for your medical condition.
Antidepressants, SSRIs and Birth Defects
Antidepressant drugs are some of the most widely-used medications in the world, and the class of antidepressants most commonly prescribed to patients in the United States are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, more commonly known as SSRIs. Among the antidepressants classified as SSRIs are Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Prozac (fluoxetine), Celexa (citalopram) and Lexapro (escitalopram), and while these drugs are largely indicated for use in treating depression, many are also commonly prescribed to patients struggling with mood disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Despite the possible benefits and widespread use of SSRI antidepressants, mounting research has identified a potential connection between these popular medications and birth defects in babies exposed to the drugs in pregnancy. If you took an SSRI antidepressant while pregnant and your child was born with a major malformation, contact an experienced defective drug attorney to discuss your legal options.
Even the FDA has acknowledged the risk of birth defects associated with antidepressant use in pregnancy, issuing multiple warnings to patients and the medical community outlining this danger. In 2005, the FDA issued a public health advisory highlighting the increased risk of birth defects – particularly heart defects – among babies exposed to the SSRI antidepressant Paxil in the first trimester of pregnancy. In 2006, the FDA issued another warning, this time notifying the public about the increased risk of a birth defect called PPHN in children whose mothers took an SSRI antidepressant while pregnant. In addition to PPHN (persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn) and heart defects, babies exposed to SSRI antidepressants in pregnancy may also be at risk for birth defects like neural tube defects, cleft lip, cleft palate, craniosynostosis, limb defects, omphalocele and anal atresia.
In the United States, the rate of antidepressant use has increased nearly 400% in the past 20 years, making the medication the most frequently used by Americans ages 18-44. As more and more Americans are diagnosed with depression, anxiety disorders and mood disorders, antidepressant drugs are being treated like a cure-all. Unfortunately, many patients are being prescribed antidepressant drugs without being adequately informed of the potential side effects, which may include the risk of birth defects in their children. If your child was born with a serious birth defect and you believe an SSRI antidepressant to be the cause, a qualified birth defect lawyer can help you explore your compensation options. You may have grounds to file a drug injury lawsuit against the allegedly negligent drug company, which can help ensure that your child receives the medical care he or she needs now and in the future.
Birth Defects, Drug Lawsuits, Class Actions
If you took an anticonvulsant (Depakote, Dilantin, Topamax or Tegretol) or antidepressant (Celexa, Lexapro, Pristiq, Paxil, Prozac, Effexor, Zoloft) drug while pregnant and your child was born with a serious birth defect, contact a defective drug attorney to discuss your legal options. You are not at fault for the injuries sustained by your child as a result of a dangerous drug, and you may have grounds to file a birth defect lawsuit against the manufacturing company responsible for producing the medication. In fact, many birth defect claims are already being investigated by defective drug lawyers across the country. The goal of defective drug lawsuits and class action lawsuits is to seek financial compensation for your child’s injuries, the medical expenses resulting from injury treatment, and the pain and suffering endured by you, your child, and your family. Every child deserves to live a long, healthy life; the only way to protect the rights of you and your child is to hire a defective drug attorney to represent your case.***