Are SSRI Antidepressants Dangerous Drugs?: Their Link to Birth Defects

December 31, 1969

According to a number of studies, SSRI antidepressants can up the risk of a pregnant mom delivering an infant with birth defects. SSRI, which stands for Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, is a class of drugs that includes the medications Zoloft, Prozac, Symbyax, Paxil, Cymbalta, Celexa, Lexapro, and Effexor. Usually prescribed to treat depression, there is now growing concern that these antidepressants are dangerous drugs for pregnant women and their babies. If you believe your child was born with a birth defect because you or your significant other took SSRI antidepressants while pregnant, do not hesitate to contact Howard Law right away. We are an Anaheim products liability law firm that represents clients throughout Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County.

Among researchers' findings are the results of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006. Per the study, women in their third trimester of pregnancy had a greater chance of delivering children with birth defects, such as persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), when they took SSRIs during their third trimester. PPHN is a lung disorder that can cause the arteries to become severely restricted and the blood pressure in the heart's pulmonary artery to go up to extremely high levels. The kidneys, liver, and brain of a baby with PPHN may also become severely stressed. PPHN can lead to heart failure, seizures, kidney failure, shock, organ damage, brain hemorrhage, breathing problems, hearing problems, and developmental disorders.

Another study reported that babies of moms who took SSRIs while they were pregnant ended up suffering withdrawal symptoms from the antidepressants after they were born. Tremors and gastrointestinal issues were among the side effects.

Still another study, associated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that babies from moms who had taken SSRI antidepressants while pregnant were at greater risk of developing Anencephaly (being born without a forebrain), Omphalocele (being born with organs outside the body), and Craniosyntosis (the knitting of the bones of a baby's skull).

Some SSRI antidepressants have also been linked to congenital heart defects that can cause a child to have to undergo multiple surgeries as he/she matures into adulthood. Possible congenital heart defects:

• Tricuspic Atresia
• Pulmonary Atresia
• Atrial Septal Defect
• Truncus Arteriosus
• Double Aortic Arch

Pulmonary Stenosis and Clubfoot have also been linked to SSRI antidepressants. Also, recently, a case-control study showed that kids who experienced prenatal exposure to SSRIs had an increased chance of developing autism spectrum disorder. The findings were reported online in the Archives of General Psychiatry. The researchers, however, were also quick to conclude that prenatal SSRI exposure is not a huge risk factor for ASD.

Drug manufacturers are supposed to only market and sell drugs that are safe for use. They are also supposed to warn of serious side effects. Unfortunately, dangerous drugs can cause birth defects and other serious injuries.

Our Orange County, California SSRI birth defect attorneys would like to offer you a free case evaluation.

Pregnant Mothers Should Not Take SSRI Antidepressants, Huffington Post, July 21, 2007

SSRIs and Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn, Massachusetts Genera Hospital, April 24, 2006

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, Mayo Clinic

First-Trimester Use of Selective Serotonin-Reuptake Inhibitors and the Risk of Birth Defects, The New England Journal of Medicine, June 28, 2007


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