Expectant mothers often face the difficult choice of whether they should take antidepressants such as serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), or completely forego these medications during their pregnancies. According to the American Psychological Association (“APA”), depression affects more than 17 million adults on an annual basis and of that figure; women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men. Physicians prescribe antidepressants to women more than men — that is 70% of all antidepressants written in the United States are for women.
A significant number of women during their child bearing years suffer from depression. The numbers are staggering as to how many pregnant women take antidepressants during their pregnancy. Some reports suggest 13% to 14% of pregnant women take antidepressants, while another suggests one third of 500,000 pregnant women take antidepressants.
Pregnant women are often prescribed SSRIs, which include: Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, Luvox, and Lexapro; while others are prescribed SNRIs such as Effexor, Pristiq, Cymbalata, Savella, and Fetzima. Unfortunately, serious birth defects have been linked to taking some of these antidepressants during the first trimester. The FDA out rightly warned against the usage of Paxil, Lexapro, and other SSRIs during pregnancy in 2006. However, in 2011, the FDA found that the link between SSRIs and persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (a congenital birth defect) was still under investigations, but advised pregnant women speak to their physicians regarding treatment options, especially if the benefits outweighed the risk. The following birth defects have been reported due to SSRI usage during the first trimester of pregnancy: congenital malformations or heart defects, persistent pulmonary hypertension, autism, limb defects, clubbed feet, spina bifa, anal atresia, anencephaly, and omphalocele. Birth defects caused by taking SNRIs, such as Effexor also included: heart defects, spinal/neural defects, cranial defects, club foot, cleft lip or palate, abdominal defects, persistent pulmonary hypertension, down’s syndrome, and premature birth.
Over the last fifteen years, thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the antidepressant drug manufacturers. At first the drug manufacturers promoted these medications as safe to take during pregnancy, however, mothers started noticing that their newborns suffered birth related complications. Parents are saying these drug manufacturers failed to warn the mothers over the increased risks to their unborn children when they were prescribed antidepressants during their pregnancies. In the early 2000’s, families filed lawsuits against Paxil for causing heart defects in their children. Paxil settled the majority of these cases, while several are still pending around the country. Currently there are Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) cases pending against the drug manufacturers Effexor and Zoloft over birth defect risks. In addition to MDLs, mothers have brought various lawsuits in state courts around the country against the manufacturers of Zoloft and Lexapro.
The Personal Injury Attorneys at Lundy Law are dedicated to helping families with children born with birth defects caused by mothers taking antidepressants during their pregnancies in obtaining the compensation they deserve. Many mothers may not have been aware that the antidepressants prescribed by their physicians may have caused the birth defects. Medical procedures including expensive medical treatments required to correct certain type of birth defects can be devastating to families. We can help you recover damages caused by such devastating antidepressant birth defects. Call us at 1(800) LUNDYLAW® for a free consultation immediately before the time to file suit against the drug manufacturer runs out, so that we can assess the strengths of your claim.