Recently, studies have shown an increased link between antidepressant usage and birth defects. SSRIs, also known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, have been commonly dispensed to a variety of individuals, including pregnant women, for many years. However, research has recently indicated that taking this class of antidepressant during pregnancy can cause birth defects. These birth defects can be quite dramatic, and some may be life-threatening.
All SSRIs work in a very similar matter, which is why they are so effective. They reduce depression by effecting neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers in the brain. An SSRI can actually block the brains ability to reabsorb serotonin. Many times, in order for a patient’s mood to increase, serotonin levels need to be adjusted. This product has the ability to help balance the serotonin levels without affecting other neurotransmitters. This also explains, in part, its common usage. Some of the antidepressant products linked to birth defects are: Celexa, Lexapro, Luvox, Paxil, Zoloft, Symbyax, and Prozac.
One of the more commonly found birth defects is Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension or PPHN. The US Food and Drug Administration has overseen research that indicates a high risk for this condition if SSRIs are taken during a woman’s 20th week of gestation. The findings indicate that there is a six times greater risk for infants to be born with PPHN over babies whose mothers did not take SSRIs during their pregnancies.
When a baby is born with PPHN, it decreases his or her ability to breathe independently outside of the womb. Upon birth, the infant must immediately be placed on a breathing apparatus.As much as this may help them, damage has been done, and many measures will be needed to assist the infant during these early days of life. They may also spend significant time in the NICU, which can be quite costly, even with health insurance. Without the infant’s ability to breathe on its own, the heart and lungs are unable to function properly due to the abnormal blood flow. This leads to an oxygen deficiency within the baby’s body.Infants born with this condition suffer a high risk of infant mortality.
When a baby is born with PPHN, or any other disorder for that matter, it is an emotionally and financially devastating experience for the parents. Since research has only recently established the link between this class ofantidepressant and birth defects, it is imperative that an expectant mother receive the right information. Suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can be very difficult. It can be an even greater struggle when a woman is pregnant. Obtaining relief from pharmaceuticals is many times the only option.
However, it is clear that great caution must be taken before deciding which product is most suitable for mother and baby. It is a good idea for an expectant mother to consult with a medical authority who is experienced at minimizing these risks.
If a woman has taken an antidepressant, and birth defects were present in her infant upon delivery, recourse may be available. One course of action is to contact a drug injury lawyer to see what legal options may be available. Many times the initial consultation is free, so there is no risk in seeking a consultation with a drug injury attorney.