A new study conducted by researchers at Kaiser Permanente has found that taking SSRI antidepressant drugs during pregnancy may significantly increase the risk of giving birth to an autistic child. Autism is just the latest in a long list of severe birth defects that have recently been associated with SSRIs. Antidepressants in the SSRI class include Zoloft, Paxil, and Prozac.
Free SSRI Antidepressant Case Evaluation: If you or a loved one has given birth to a child with autism or any other serious congenital defect you feel may have been caused by an antidepressant medication, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit and we can help.
What’s the problem?
July 6, 2011 – The study, which was published in this week’s Archives of General Psychiatry, involved 298 children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and a control group of 1,507 children. Researchers found that women who took an SSRI antidepressant while pregnant – especially during the first trimester – were twice as likely to give birth to a child with an ASD than mothers who did not.
Taking these figures into consideration, the results of the study seem to suggest a strong link between SSRIs and autism. The scientists who conducted the study are calling for more in-depth research, and are advising doctors and patients to carefully weigh the benefits vs. risks of taking antidepressants carefully before beginning a regimen. SSRI antidepressant drugs include:
Last year, a government funded study found that giving SSRIs to autistic children not only failed to provide any positive benefit, but also exposed them to all of the side effects of antidepressants. SSRIs are commonly prescribed ‘off-label’ to treat symptoms of depression and anxiety found in autistic children. Off-label use refers to the highly controversial practice of prescribing medicines for unapproved indications for which they have not been tested or evaluated.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
ASDs are a group of complex developmental disabilities that cause problems with social interaction and communication. The medical community refers to autism as a ‘spectrum’ disorder, a group of conditions with similar features. One person may have mild symptoms while another may display more severe characteristics, but they both have an ASD. Currently, the autism spectrum disorder category includes autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (atypical autism). ASDs are characterized by the following traits, running the gamut from mild to severe:
- impaired development in social interaction, communication and behavior
- does not respond to own name
- avoids eye contact
- does not engage in social play
- unusual responses to sensory experiences
- inability to hold a conversation
- appear deaf at times
- limited interests and activities
- engage in repetitive movements
- reduced sensitivity to pain
- hypersensitive to sensory stimuli
- throw tantrums
- exhibit aggressive or destructive behaviors
- short attention span
Each child will display these symptoms in varying degrees, but in a way that fits into the overall diagnosis of ASD. A recent study found that approximately 3.4 of every 1,000 children between the ages of three and 10 had autism, making ASDs more common than many better known disorders such as diabetes, spina bifida or Down syndrome.
Although there is no known cure for autism, there are ways to help minimize its symptoms and to maximize learning. Behavioral management therapy can help reinforce wanted behavior and reduce unwanted behavior, while speech language therapists can help autistic individuals improve their ability to communicate and interact with others. Occupational therapy can help people with ASDs find ways to adjust tasks to match their needs and abilities, and physical therapists can design activities and exercises to improve motor control and balance. Currently there are no medications that can cure autism or treat its symptoms.
Antidepressant Birth Defects
Although they have been found to cause fewer side effects than other types of antidepressants, SSRIs have been linked to a number of severe birth defects including:
- Atrial Septal Defects (ASD)
- Ventricular Septal Defects (VSD)
- Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN)
- Tricuspid Valve (Ebstein’s Anomaly)
- Mitral Valve Prolapse
- Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA)
- Transposition of the Great Vessels (TGV)
- Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF)
- Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS)
- Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome (HRHS)
- Tricuspid Atresia
- Aortic Stenosis
- Pulmonary Atresia (PA)
- Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)
- Coarctation of the Aorta
- Truncus Arteriosus
- Tricuspid Valve Stenosis
- Heart Murmur
- Pulmonary Stenosis
- Gastroschisis – abdominal wall defect
- Esophageal Stenosis
- Anal Atresia
- Spina Bifida
If you or a loved one took an antidepressant drug during pregnancy and gave birth to a child with any of the defects listed above, you may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit. Please contact us today for more information.
Do I have an SSRI Antidepressant Lawsuit?
The Product Liability & Defective Drug Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in SSRI antidepressant lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new autism cases in all 50 states.