Zoloft (sertraline hydrochloride) is a popular antidepressant medication that has been linked to a high number of extremely serious congenital birth defects in children when taken by expecting mothers in their first trimester of pregnancy. Birth defects linked to Zoloft include cardiac heart defects, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), neural-tube defects and infant omphalocele. At Schmidt & Clark, LLP, we represent families across the nation whose babies were born with birth defects after the mother took Zoloft while pregnant.
What’s the problem?
Zoloft is a second generation antidepressant medication in a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Marketed and manufactured by Pfizer, Zoloft was first approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991 for the treatment of a variety of disorders which range from depression and social anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. SSRIs like Zoloft selectively affect serotonin – one of many chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters – that pass messages between nerve cells. This is thought to regulate the part of the brain that involves the mood. Generic sertraline tablets are made by Ivax Pharmaceuticals, and generic sertraline hydrochloride oral concentrate is made by Roxane Laboratories.
Antidepressant medications like Zoloft typically represent the first line of treatment for most types of depression. Zoloft can help relieve your symptoms and keep you feeling your best, but there’s more to the story when you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Here’s what you need to know about Zoloft and pregnancy.
Side Effects of Zoloft
Use of Zoloft during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of serious and potentially life-threatening health problems for babies 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
The risk of birth defects is so great that Pfizer – the manufacturer of Zoloft – has warned doctors, “The safety of Zoloft during pregnancy and lactation has not been established and therefore, it should not be used in women of childbearing potential or nursing mothers, unless, in the opinion of the physician, the potential benefits to the patient outweigh the possible hazards to the fetus.”
Antidepressants Linked to Birth Defects
In addition to Zoloft, other antidepressant medications linked to these birth defects include: