When a baby is still in the womb, the lungs are not needed in the exchange of oxygen because the placenta provides the child with adequate oxygen through the umbilical cord. Because of this, a baby's circulation bypasses the lungs during fetal development, and the pulmonary artery sends blood directly back to the heart through the ductus arteriosus, instead of carrying blood from the heart to the lungs. When the child is born, the body adapts to breathing air outside the womb, the pressure in the lungs changes and the lungs inflate, and the ductus arteriosus closes permanently. Blood returning to the heart from the rest of the body can be pumped into the lungs in order for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide to take place, and that oxygen-rich blood is then pumped to the rest of the body.
Unfortunately, in children born with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), the child's circulation continues to bypass the lungs after birth, preventing an adequate amount of oxygen from reaching the rest of the body. Although the affected child can breathe, oxygen in the breathed air will not reach the bloodstream to be delivered to the body's tissues and vital organs. Although the cause of PPHN is usually unknown, one of the contributing factors to this birth defect may be exposure of the fetus to pharmaceutical medications during pregnancy. According to studies, some prescription medications, like SSRI antidepressant drugs, may lead to an increased risk of PPHN among exposed infants.
The most common side effects of PPHN are rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, cyanosis (bluish tint to the skin), respiratory distress, low oxygen levels in the blood, and sometimes a heart murmur. PPHN is an extremely serious birth defect, requiring intensive monitoring and immediate treatment. The main goal of PPHN treatment is to restore oxygen levels delivered to the rest of the child's body in order to prevent irreversible organ damage. Common methods of treatment for PPHN include:
Even with treatment, some infants with PPHN may continue to deliver insufficient amounts of blood and oxygen to their organs and tissues, potentially leading to life-threatening complications like seizures, shock, heart failure, kidney failure, brain hemorrhage, and even death. Long periods of inadequate oxygenation can have serious adverse effects on infants who survive PPHN, including breathing difficulties or a chronic lung disease called bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Other complications include developmental delay, seizure disorders and neurological deficits.
PPHN is a serious heart and lung condition which can lead to life-altering and even fatal consequences for an affected child. If you or a loved one has suffered from PPHN and you believe exposure to a pharmaceutical drug during pregnancy to be the cause, contact a defective drug attorney to represent your case. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries and medical expenses, which you can collect by filing a defective drug lawsuit against the drug manufacturing company. You are not at fault for injuries sustained during the use of a potentially dangerous drug. With the help of a qualified defective drug lawyer, you can protect your rights and collect the compensation you deserve.
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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