Recent studies have found that a number of popular antidepressants such as Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft have been linked to a catastrophic birth defect known as anecephaly. This horrible condition is characterized by the absence of a large part of the newborn’s brain and skull, and usually causes death within a few days of being born.
Free Anencephaly Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has given birth to a child with anencephaly or other birth 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 our lawyers can help.
Update: Study Links SSRIs to Anencephaly, Heart Defects & Gastrointestinal Malformations
January 6, 2016 – A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center has confirmed a link between SSRIs and anencephaly and other major birth defects. Click here to learn more.
What’s the problem?
Anencephaly is one of the most common neural tube defects reported around the country, occurring in approximately one out of every 10,000 births. The defect manifests itself early in the development (typically within the first eight weeks) of an unborn child, and results when the upper part of the neural tube fails to close. Signs and symptoms of antidepressant-induced anencephaly include:
- absence of bony covering over the back of the head
- missing bones around the front and sides of the head
- folding of the ears
- cleft palate – a condition in which the roof of the child’s mouth doesn’t close completely, leaving an opening that can extend into the nasal cavity
- congenital heart defects
Infants with anencephaly are born lacking a forebrain (the front part of the brain) and a cerebrum (the thinking and coordinating part of the brain). The remaining brain tissue is often exposed and not covered by bone or skin. Babies born with this defect are typically blind, deaf, unconscious, and unable to feel pain. Although some affected individuals may possess a rudimentary brain stem, the lack of a functioning cerebrum effectively eliminates the possibility that the child will ever gain consciousness.
Antidepressants Linked to Anencephaly
The following antidepressants have been linked to the development of anencephaly in infants born to mothers who took the drugs while pregnant (particularly during the first trimester, a time when many women may still be unaware that they are pregnant):
- Paxil (Paroxetine)
- Zoloft (Sertraline)
- Prozac (fluoxetine)
- Lexapro (Escitalopram)
- Symbyax (fluoxetine and olanzapine)
- Wellbutrin (Bupropion)
Anencephaly is typically diagnosed during early pregnancy or at birth by a doctor’s physical examination. The infant’s head may appear flattened due to the abnormal brain development and missing bones of the skull. The following diagnostic tests may be performed during pregnancy to evaluate the potential for anencephaly:
- alpha-fetoprotein – a substance produced by the fetus that is found in the amniotic fluid.
- amniocentesis – a test performed to determine chromosomal and genetic disorders, as well as a number of birth defects.
- ultrasound – a diagnostic imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the unborn baby’s internal workings
- blood tests
Other Birth Defects Associated With Antidepressants
In addition to anencephaly, a number of other birth defects have been linked to the use of antidepressant medications 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 are currently taking any of the antidepressants listed in this article and are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your physician immediately about the risk of side effects. It is important that you not stop taking any medication without first talking to your doctor, and that you learn as much as you can about the potential dangers from different drugs when taken during pregnancy.
Having a baby born with anencephaly is a heart wrenching situation for any family member to have to go through. Current scientific research is limited in providing answers to what causes this and other life-threatening birth defects, and the sad fact of the matter is that these birth defects can change the life of a family forever. Worst of all is the knowledge that these birth defects may have been entirely preventable.
Rare Cluster of Anencephaly Cases Found in Washington State
Three counties in Washington State are struggling to explain a dramatic increase in anencephaly by area hospitals over the past 5 years. Anencephaly is so rare that it is usually written off as a fluke, but rates in Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties are so high that researchers have begun to speculate that the use of certain prescription drugs during pregnancy may be to blame. Click here to learn more.
Do You Have an Anencephaly 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 antidepressant-induced anencephaly lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new anencephaly cases in all 50 states.