The popular antidepressant Effexor (generic: venlafaxine) has been linked to atrial septal defects (ASDs) in babies born to mothers who take the drug during pregnancy. Signs and symptoms of an atrial septal defect may include shortness of breath, fatigue, lung infections, and heart palpitations. The Effexor Lawyers at Schmidt & Clark, LLP, are currently accepting potential lawsuits on behalf of babies born with atrial septal defects after the mother took Effexor during pregnancy.
What’s the Problem with Effexor?
In December 2012, a study published in the journal Birth Defects Research added new evidence to a growing body of data linking Effexor to a number of serious birth defects. The research, which involved information collected by the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (NBDPS), looked at over 19,000 women whose pregnancies were affected by one of 30 specific birth defects, as well as a control group of 8,002 women whose children were born with no such defects. The study found ‘statistically significant associations’ between Effexor exposure and atrial septal defects, anencephaly, coarctation of the aorta, cleft palate, and gastroschisis.
Atrial Septal Defect Symptoms
An atrial septal defect is a rare congenital (present at birth) condition in which there is a hole in the wall between the upper two chambers of the heart. Many children born with ASDs do not show signs or symptoms until later in life. In adults, symptoms usually begin around the age of 30, and may include:
- Heart murmur
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of legs, feet or abdomen
- Heart palpitations or skipped beats
- Frequent lung infections
- Bluish skin color (cyanosis)
Manufactured and marketed by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Effexor is an antidepressant medication that belongs to a controversial class of drugs known as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Drugs from this class are designed to increase serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the spaces between the cells in the brain, which allows more efficient transmission of electrical signals to the brain. This theoretically improves the user’s mood and feelings of well-being. However, despite its widespread popularity and considerable effectiveness as an antidepressant medication, Effexor has been repeatedly linked to birth defects when taken by expecting mothers during pregnancy.
Effexor Birth Defect Studies
A 2007 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) found a disturbing correlation between antidepressant medications like Effexor and septal heart defects. According to the research, expecting mothers who took SSRIs during pregnancy doubled their risk of having a baby born with septal defects. Another study published in the March 2010 edition of Pediatrics found a potential association between antidepressant exposure in late pregnancy and a delay in motor development skills at six and 19 months of age. A third study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that women who were pregnant and taking certain antidepressants during the first trimester had an increased risk of giving birth to infants with serious congenital heart defects.