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Pristiq During Pregnancy

Birth defects including PPHN have possibly been linked to Pristiq use during pregnancy and lawsuits are being considered by Pristiq attorneys across the nation.

Millions of Americans suffer from depression, a medical disorder which interferes with nearly every aspect of an individual's life. Depression can cause severe mood and behavior changes, causing stress on personal and social relationships, school, work, and even sleeping and eating habits. In order to treat their depression, many individuals take prescription antidepressant medications like Pristiq. These medications are marketed to individuals suffering from depression as a way to relieve their depression and increase their daily functioning. Millions of individuals take antidepressants like Pristiq under the assumption that the drug will improve their depression symptoms and improve their quality of life. While this may be true, recent studies have indicated that women who take Pristiq while pregnant may significantly increase their risk of giving birth to children with one or more devastating birth defects.

PristiqPillWebWhat is Pristiq?

Pristiq is the brand name of the drug desvenlafaxine, which is considered a new generation antidepressant. Pristiq was introduced in 2008 by the pharmaceutical company Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc., which is now a part of Pfizer Inc. The drug is a synthetic form of the major active ingredient of venlafaxine, which is sold under the brand names Effexor and Efexor. Pristiq was approved by the FDA in February 2008 for the treatment of major depressive disorder in adults, and is one of a group of SNRI drugs, or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. These drugs function by increasing the levels of two neurotransmitters in the brain, serotonin and norepinephrine, thereby relieving depression and improving certain mood disorders.

SNRI drugs like Pristiq were developed more recently than SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which only act on serotonin. These drugs are some of the most widely used antidepressants on the market because they have, in some instances, demonstrated slightly more success in treating depression than SSRIs. There are also very few of these type of drugs, mostly because they were developed so recently. Although Pristiq has only been approved for the treatment of depression, it has also been shown in clinical trials to improve anxiety, bipolar disorder and panic disorder, which may be considered off-label uses. Pristiq can be found in both 50mg and 100mg extended-release tablets for oral consumption.

Pristiq and Birth Defects

"Taking antidepressants while pregnant may have a significantly increased risk of developing life-threatening birth defects."

Use of the SNRI antidepressant drug Pristiq during pregnancy may be associated with an increased risk of side effects causing birth defects in infants exposed to the drug in utero, including a life-threatening heart and lung condition called persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). In the womb, the lungs are not necessary in the exchange of oxygen because because the placenta supplies the child with adequate oxygen through the umbilical cord. Because of this, the child's circulation bypasses the lungs. Under normal circumstances, when the child is born, the circulatory system adapts to the change and the lungs are then required in order to provide the body with oxygen. Unfortunately, in children with PPHN, the body fails to make this change, and the infant's blood continues to bypass the lungs, depriving their bodies of oxygen. If the child has an inadequate supply of oxygen to vital organs, the child may suffer from mass organ failure, especially of the brain and kidneys, and even death.

There have been reports of fetuses exposed to Pristiq developing conditions that require hospitalization, respiratory support and tube feeding. In addition to PPHN, infants whose mothers take Pristiq during the third trimester of pregnancy may suffer from a number of additional complications, including:

  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tremors
  • Constant crying
  • Irritability
  • Lack of oxygen in the blood
  • Feeding difficulties

A 2006 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that infants born to women who take certain antidepressants while pregnant may have a significantly increased risk of developing life-threatening birth defects. According to this study, infants who were exposed to certain antidepressants in utero were six times more likely to develop PPHN than infants who were not exposed to the medications. Some antidepressant medications like Pristiq may cause substantial complications for infants when taken during pregnancy, some of which may be fatal.

Pristiq Use and Pregnancy

The FDA has classified Pristiq as a pregnancy category C medication, which means it may cause harm to a human fetus if taken during pregnancy. There have been no well-controlled studies of the potentially harmful effect of Pristiq on infants exposed to the drug in utero, but animal studies have revealed a potential for fetal harm when the drug is taken during pregnancy. This means that Pristiq should only be prescribed to pregnant women if the possible benefits of the drug justify the potential risk to the fetus. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant and you are currently taking Pristiq, consult your physician as soon as possible. It is never advised to discontinue use of a prescription medication without medical consent, but with the help of your doctor, you may be able to find a safer alternative to Pristiq for treating your depression.

A Pristiq Attorney Can Help

Victims of serious adverse side effects resulting from the use of a defective drug are not at fault. If you or a loved one has suffered from a birth defect like PPHN which you believe to be related to the use of Pristiq, contact a Pristiq attorney to discuss the benefits of filing a Pristiq lawsuit. The goal of Pristiq lawsuits is to seek financial compensation for your injuries, the medical expenses associated with injury treatment, and the pain and suffering incurred by you and your family. Drug manufacturing companies are responsible for the safety of their medications and should be held accountable for the injuries sustained by consumers of their products. By contacting a qualified Pristiq lawyer and filing a Pristiq lawsuit or joining a Pristiq class action lawsuit, potential Pristiq birth defect victims can hold the allegedly negligent pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, responsible for their injuries and collect fair reimbursement, as well as bring attention to the importance of safe drugs on the market.

Tell Family And Friends

Spread the word so women are aware of the risks for both anticonvulsant birth defects and antidepressant birth defects and so families dealing with the hardship and expenses of lifetime care can get financial help from experienced class action attorneys. Learn more about Side Effects from prescription drugs.

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Potential antidepressant side effects associated with antidepressant use and pregnancy:

Pristiq Info


Wyeth Pharmaceuticals

Generic Name:


Pristiq Uses:

  • Major Depressive Disorder

FDA Approval:


Pregnancy Side Effects:

  • Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN)

FDA Actions:

  • Pregnancy Category C

Antidepressant drugs that are under investigation by lawyers regarding their use while pregnant and birth defects:

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