January 2013

Transposition of the Great Arteries is a congenital (present at birth) heart defect found to be associated with maternal use of Prozac® during pregnancy by medical researcher Diav-Citrin in a 2008 study titled “Paroxetine and fluoxetine in pregnancy: a prospective, multicentre, controlled, observational study,” published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

Concerning persons suffering from Transposition of the Great Arteries, the website KidsHealth states that in Transposition of the Great Arteries, “the pulmonary artery and the aorta (the major blood vessels leaving the heart) are switched so that the aorta arises from the right side of the heart and receives blue blood, which is sent right back out to the body without becoming oxygen-rich. The pulmonary artery arises from the left side of the heart, receives red blood and sends it back to the lungs again. As a result, babies with this condition often appear very blue and have low oxygen levels in the bloodstream.”[1]

Zoloft Lawyer SSRI Lawsuit SSRI Birth Defect Attorney Aortic Stenosis Transposition of the Great Artieries
Transposition of the Great Arteries

PubMed Health, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, states that symptoms of Transposition of the Great arteries may also include “clubbing of the fingers or toes,”[2] “poor feeding,”[3] and “shortness of breath.”[4]

Treatment of Transposition of the Great Arteries

Because of the severity of this condition, it is usually discovered shortly after birth, requiring heart surgery for correction of the birth defect.  The surgery performed is called “an arterial switch procedure … used to permanently correct the problem within the baby’s first week of life.  This surgery switches the great arteries back to the normal position and keeps the coronary arteries attached to the aorta.”[5]

Though the child’s condition will improve greatly following surgery, complications of Transposition of the Great Arteries can range from “coronary artery problems,”[6] to “heart valve problems,”[7] to arrhythmia,[8] which together could limit the child’s ability to lead a normal, active life.

Though there is no guaranteed way to prevent your child from being born with Transposition of the Great Arteries, anything you can do to that end is beneficial.  When pregnant, it is important that one avoids alcohol, eats well, and controls diabetes,[9] for these “may be helpful,”[10] in the prevention of Transposition of the Great Arteries.

Avoiding Transposition of the Great Arteries

Furthermore, it is important that expecting mother avoid SSRI use during pregnancy, for many different SSRI drugs have been linked to greatly increased risk of heart defects.  Specifically, Prozac® (fluoxetine) has been linked to increased risk of Transposition of the Great Arteries.

Due to the fact that maternal Prozac® use during pregnancy has been found to place newborns at a dramatically-increased risk of heart defects, many families are filing Prozac® lawsuits to gain compensation for the injuries members of their family have suffered.  If you or a loved one used Prozac® during pregnancy, and your child was born with Transposition of the Great Arteries, please do not hesitate to contact our Prozac® lawyers for a free consultation.  You may reach us toll-free by phone at (855) 452-5529 or by e-mail at justinian@dangerousdrugs.us.  Our firm has everything required to secure the justice your family deserves.


[1] “Congenital Heart Defects” KidsHealth. Nemours. © 1995-2013 The Nemours Foundation. Available at <http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/heart/congenital_heart_defects.html?tracking=P_RelatedArticle#> Accessed 23 January 2013

[2] “Transposition of the great arteries – PubMed Health” PubMed Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. © 2012 A.D.A.M., Inc. available at <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002535/> Accessed 23 January 2013

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5]Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

Tricuspid valve stenosis is a heart defect present at birth in some infants.  “In this condition, the tricuspid valve is narrowed, decreasing the amount of blood that can flow through it from the right atrium to the right ventricle.”[1]

Paxil Lawyer SSRI Lawsuit SSRI Birth Defect Attorney Tricuspid Valve Stenosis (c) 2009 nucleus medical art, inc.
Tricuspid Valve Stenosis

 

When blood flow to the right ventricle is limited, the amount of blood that can be pumped from the heart to the lungs is in turn limited, thus reducing the chance internal organs can get all the oxygen required for healthy life.

In most cases, primary symptoms associated with tricuspid valve stenosis are arrhythmia,[2] “discomfort in the neck … fatigue and cold skin”[3].

Usually, medication can be sufficient for treating tricuspid valve stenosis, but in very extreme cases, surgery may be required to replace the dysfunctional valve.[4]  Sadly, however, there is no cure for tricuspid valve stenosis: the only way to be entirely safe from tricuspid valve stenosis is to prevent it.

Due to the recently discovered association between congenital (present at birth) tricuspid valve stenosis and maternal use of SSRI drugs such as Paxil® and Zoloft® during pregnancy, one important way to ensure that your child is not born with tricuspid valve stenosis is to avoid all SSRI drugs during pregnancy.

We Can Help

Because expecting mothers using SSRIs, especially Paxil® and Zoloft®, were not made aware of the possibility that their child may be born with tricuspid valve stenosis, Paxil® and Zoloft® heart defect lawsuits are currently being filed to secure compensation for families suffering from SSRI-induced injury.  If you used Paxil® or  Zoloft® during pregnancy and your child was born with tricuspid valve stenosis, please do not hesitate to contact our lawyers by phone at (855) 452-5529 or by e-mail at justinian@dangerousdrugs.us for a free consultation.  We have the compassion, skills, and resources required to provide the justice your family deserves.


[1] “Tricuspid valve disease – Diagnosis and treatment at Mayo Clinic” Mayo Clinic. © 2001 – 2013 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Available at <http://www.mayoclinic.org/tricuspid-valve-disease/> Accessed 23 January 2013

[2] “Tricuspid Stenosis Medication” Mancini, M.C., et al. Medscape Reference © 1994 – 2013 WebMD LLC. Available at <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/158604-medication#2> Updated 1 July 2011, Accessed 23 January 2013

[3] “Tricuspid Stenosis: Valvular Disorders: Merck Manual Professional” The Merck Manual © 2010-2011 Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Available at <http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular_disorders/valvular_disorders/tricuspid_stenosis.html> Updated December 2012, Guy P. Armstrong. Accessed 23 January 2013

[4] Ibid.

Tricuspid atresia is a congenital (from birth) heart defect recently linked to maternal use of Paxil® during pregnancy.[1]  Paxil® is a selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), a new type of antidepressant drug that helps regulate serotonin levels in the brain, a chemical involved in mood regulation.

In children born with tricuspid atresia, “the tricuspid heart valve is missing or abnormally developed.  The defect blocks blood flow from the right atrium to the right ventricle.”[2]

Paxil Lawyer SSRI Lawsuit SSRI Birth Defect Attorney Tricuspid Atresia
Normal Heart vs. Heart in Tricuspid Atresia

As we can see from the above image, in persons with tricuspid atresia, the tricuspid valve is undeveloped.

PubMed Health, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine states that “Normally, blood flows from the body into the right atrium, then through the tricuspid valve to the right ventricle and on to the lungs.  If the tricuspid valve does not open, the blood cannot flow from the right atrium to the right ventricle.  Blood ultimately cannot enter the lungs, where it must go to pick up oxygen (become oxygenated).”[3]

Symptoms of Tricuspid Atresia

Symptoms of Tricuspid Atresia include:

  • “Bluish color to the skin
  • Fast breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Poor growth
  • Shortness of breath”[4]

Treatment of Tricupid Atresia

When a child is diagnosed with tricuspid atresia, the newborn must quickly be transferred to an intensive care unit where “prostaglandin E1 is [administered] to keep the blood circulating to the lungs.”[5]  A ventilator may be required to keep the newborn breathing.[6]

While prostaglandin E1 and the use of a ventilator may stabilize the newborn, tricuspid atresia “always requires surgery.”[7]  This surgery is highly invasive, and usually takes place in three stages.  First, the baby’s blood flow is redirected with the use of an artificial blood vessel to ensure that adequate blood reaches the lungs for oxygenation.[8]

After this stage, the baby most often can return home albeit under the close supervision of a physician and with the use of daily medication.

The second stage of the three-part surgery required to treat tricuspid atresia is called “the Glenn shunt of Hemifontan procedure.”[9]  In this stage, the major arteries carrying oxygen-deficient blood to the heart are connected directly to the pulmonary artery, thus partially bypassing the ineffective right ventricle and proceeding directly to the lungs where it is oxygenated.[10]

In the third stage of surgery this surgery, a procedure called the Fontan procedure, the remaining smaller arteries carrying oxygen-deficient blood to the heart are connected directly to the pulmonary artery, completely bypassing the ineffective right ventricle, and proceeding directly to the lungs for oxygenation.[11]

While “surgery usually will improve the condition”[12], complications may still occur.

Complications of Tricuspid Atresia

PubMed Health states that possible complications include:

  • “Irregular, fast heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Chronic diarrhea (from a disease called protein loosing enteropathy)
  • Heart failure
  • Fluid in the abdomen (ascites) and in the lungs (pleural effusion)
  • Blockage of the artificial shunt
  • Strokes and other nervous system complications
  • Sudden death”[13]

We Can Help

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent tricuspid atresia, there are ways to reduce your child’s risk of being born with this terrible condition.  First and foremost, pregnant women should avoid the use of SSRI drugs during pregnancy, especially Paxil®.  Because Paxil® side effects such as increased risk of tricuspid atresia were not included on Paxil® warning labels, Paxil® lawsuits are currently being filed to seek compensation for families whose loved one has suffered unnecessarily from Paxil® heart defects.  If you believe that Paxil® has caused injury to someone you love, please do not hesitate to contact our law firm for a free consultation at (855) 452-5529 or by e-mail at justinian@dangerousdrugs.us.  Our team has the resources, skills, and compassion required to secure the justice your family deserves.


[1] Sadler, T.W. et al (2011) “Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and heart defects: Potential mechanisms for the observed associations” Reproductive Toxicology Vol. 32; pp. 484-489

[2] “Tricuspid atresia – PubMed Health” PubMed Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. © 2012 A.D.A.M., Inc. available at <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002100> accessed 22 January 2013

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) has recently been linked with maternal use of SSRI drugs, especially Paxil®, during pregnancy.  Hypo-, from Greek meaning “less than normal, deficient”[1], and plastic, meaning “forming; growing; changing; developing”[2], hypoplastic left heart syndrome is a birth defect characterized by the underdevelopment of the left heart.

Paxil Lawyer SSRI Lawsuit SSRI Birth Defect Attorney Hypoplastic left heart syndrome - ADAM 2012
Differences between developmentally-normal heart, and heart in hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

This ailment results in the inability of the heart to pump enough blood to the body.  “As a result, the right side of the heart must maintain the circulation for both the lungs and the body.  The right ventricle can support the circulation both the lungs and the body for a while, but this extra workload eventually causes the right side of the heart to fail.”[3]

Babies with HLHS must rely on the ductus arteriosus, “a small blood vessel that connects the aorta to the pulmonary artery”[4] and the foramen ovale, a small hole between the left and right atrium, to maintain blood flowing throughout the body.[5]  While these openings usually close shortly after birth, newborns can be started on medications to keep the ductus arteriosus open.  Surgery may be required to keep the foramen ovale open.[6]

If either of these passageways are allowed to close, a baby can die quickly because blood would stop flowing continuously through the body.

Symptoms of Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome

“At first, a newborn with hypoplastic left heart may appear normal. Symptoms usually occur in the first few hours of life, although it may take up to a few days to develop symptoms. These symptoms may include:

  • Bluish (cyanosis) or poor skin color
  • Cold hands and feet (extremities)
  • Lethargy
  • Poor pulse
  • Poor suckling and feeding
  • Pounding heart
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • In healthy newborns, bluish color in the hands and feet is a response to cold (this reaction is called peripheral cyanosis).

However, a bluish color in the chest or abdomen, lips, and tongue is abnormal (called central cyanosis). It is a sign that there is not enough oxygen in the blood. Central cyanosis often increases with crying.”[7]

Treatment for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome

Treatment options for newborns suffering from HLHS are very limited.  Immediately following a diagnosis of HLHS, the newborn must be transferred to an intensive care unit, and may require a ventilator to ensure the newborn continues breathing.[8]  The drug “prostaglandin E1 is used to keep blood circulating to the body by keeping the ductus arteriosus open”[9] to stabilize the patient.

However stable the patient’s condition, babies cannot continue living in an intensive care unit idefinitely.  HLHS “always requires surgery”[10], and the heart surgery is usually performed in three stages: the Norwood operation, followed by the Glenn shunt or (hemi-Fontan) procedure, followed finally by the Fontan procedure.[11]

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has published an excellent diagram of HLHS here.[12] The Norwood procedure is “the building of a new aorta,”[13] the main passageway carrying oxygen-rich blood out of the heart, using the pulmonary artery, and thus bypassing the underdeveloped left side of the heart.  Normally, the left side of the heart would take oxygen-rich blood coming from the lungs and pumps it out to the body, and the right side of the heart would only take oxygen-deficient blood from the body and pump it back to the lungs to be re-oxygenated.  In hypoplastic left heart syndrome, however, the left heart is very underdeveloped, and cannot pump oxygen-rich blood to the body.  So, the right side of the heart must also pump oxygen-rich blood to the body.

In the Norwood procedure, the underdeveloped aorta is first connected to the pulmonary artery.  The pulmonary artery would normally carry oxygen-deficient blood from the heart to the lungs, but through the Norwood procedure, it is used to instead carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body.  Then, a hole must be created between the two sides of the heart, so oxygen rich blood flowing to the non-functioning left heart pump can access the functioning right side of the heart to be pumped to the body.  Finally, a “shunt” is created to ensure blood can adequately flow back to the lungs from the right heart to be re-oxygenated, while the right heart is also pumping oxygen-rich blood to the body.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia provides insightful video clips explaining this operation.

[14]

After this stage, the child may go home, but must remain on medication and under the close observation of a physician.  Depending on how the child develops, the child’s physician will determine when the second surgery is to take place, usually after about 4-6 months.[15]

In the second stage of the operation, called the Glenn shunt or hemi-Fontan procedure, the shunt used in the Norwood procedure is removed, and the major veins that normally carry oxygen-deficient blood are redirected away from the heart and connected directly to the pulmonary arteries leading to the lungs for re-oxygenation.

[16]

In the third stage of the operation, the Fontan procedure, other smaller veins carrying oxygen-deficient blood to the heart are connected directly to the pulmonary arteries leading to the lungs for re-oxygenation.[17]

Once this procedure is complete, the right heart pumps oxygen-rich blood out to the body, taking over the normal role of the left heart, and the normal function of the right heart is eclipsed: oxygen-deficient blood is redirected away from the heart, and goes straight to the lungs for re-oxygenation.

[18]

Outcomes and Complications

PubMed Health, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine states that “If left untreated, hypoplastic left heart syndrome is fatal”[19], but reassures that the “[s]urvival after the first stage is more than 75%.”[20]

“Complications include:

  • Blockage of the artificial shunt
  • Chronic diarrhea (from a disease called protein losing enteropathy)
  • Fluid in the abdomen (ascites) and in the lungs (pleural effusion)
  • Heart failure
  • Irregular, fast heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Strokes and other nervous system complications
  • Sudden death”[21]

We Are Here To Help

Thankfully, risk of a child being born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome can be dramatically reduced if mothers avoid SSRI drugs during pregnancy, especially Paxil®.  Because of these unreported and horrible Paxil® side effects, Paxil® lawsuits are currently being filed by families whose newborn children were injured by Paxil®.  If you believe your child’s hypoplastic left heart syndrome resulted from Paxil® or SSRI use during pregnancy, please do not hesitate to contact our law firm at (855) 452-5529 or by e-mail at justinian@dangerousdrugs.us.  We understand the pain your family has gone through, and we have the knowledge and resources needed to help you fight for justice.

 


[1] hypo-. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved January 22 2013 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/hypo-

[2] -plastic. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved January 22 2013 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/-plastic

[3] “Hypoplastic left heart syndrome – PubMed Health” PubMed Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine.  © 2012 A.D.A.M., Inc.  available at <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002096/> accessed 22 January 2013

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] “Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) Repair Illustration” The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. © 1996-2013 The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. available at <http://www.chop.edu/img/cardiac-center/hlhs-surgery-three-stages.html> accessed 22 January 2013

[13] “Hypoplastic left heart syndrome – PubMed Health” PubMed Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine.  © 2012 A.D.A.M., Inc.  available at <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002096/> accessed 22 January 2013

[14] ChildrensHospPhila (2011, March 2) Stage 1 of Reconstruction of a Heart with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) – COP Retrieved January 22, 2013, from http://youtu.be/-87kq98l1kk

[15] “Hypoplastic left heart syndrome – PubMed Health” PubMed Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine.  © 2012 A.D.A.M., Inc.  available at <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002096/> accessed 22 January 2013

[16] ChildrensHospPhila (2011, March 2) Stage 2 of Reconstruction of a Heart with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) – COP Retrieved January 22, 2013, from http://youtu.be/fUPVkKvPGe4

[17] “Hypoplastic left heart syndrome – PubMed Health” PubMed Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine.  © 2012 A.D.A.M., Inc.  available at <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002096/> accessed 22 January 2013

[18] ChildrensHospPhila (2011, March 2) Stage 3 of Reconstruction of a Heart with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) – COP Retrieved January 22, 2013, from http://youtu.be/mu_amCCD8gg

[19] “Hypoplastic left heart syndrome – PubMed Health” PubMed Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine.  © 2012 A.D.A.M., Inc.  available at <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002096/> accessed 22 January 2013

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

In a study published in a 2007 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, Sura Alwan et al. evaluates the effect of maternal use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor medications (SSRIs) during pregnancy on the likelihood of bearing children with congenital malformations.  The study, titled “Use of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors in Pregnancy and the Risk of Birth Defects,” made several startling findings.

From data collected from the (U.S.) National Birth Defects Prevention Study, the Alwan team was able to evaluate the medication history of 9,266 mothers whose children were born with birth defects along with 4,092 control infants.[1]

And although it ought to be noted that the absolute risk of developing these ailments remains low, Alwan found that maternal use of SSRIs during pregnancy dramatically increases the risk for anencephaly (2.4 fold), craniosynostosis (2.5 fold), and omphalocele (2.8 fold).[2]

PubMed Health, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, states that anencephaly is a birth defect characterized by the “absence of a large part of the brain and the skull,”[3] a condition that results from the underdevelopment of the neural tube before birth and is almost always fatal.[4]  Thankfully, maternal ingestion of a daily multivitamin can reduce the risk of anencephaly by 50%.[5]

Craniosynostosis is “a birth defect that causes one or more structures on a baby’s head to close earlier than normal.”[6]  PubMed Health explains, stating “The skull of an infant or young child is made up of bony plates that allow for growth of the skull.  The borders at which these plates intersect are called structures or structure lines.  The structures between these bony plates normally close by the time the child is 2 or 3 years old.  Early closing of a structure causes the baby to have an abnormally shaped head.”[7]

Here, we can see the bones of a growing child’s skull.

Paxil Lawyer Prozac Lawyer Zoloft Lawyer Celexa Lawyer SSRI Birth Defect Lawsuit SSRI Attorney - Skull of a Newborn

Most often, surgery done while the child is young can relieve any undue pressure on the brain,[8] “make sure there is enough room in the skull to allow the brain to properly grow,”[9] and “improve the appearance of the child’s head.”[10]  If surgery goes well, complications such as “increased intracranial pressure, seizures, and developmental delay,”[11] may well be avoided.

Lastly, omphalocele is “a birth defect in which the infant’s intestine or other abdominal organs stick out of the belly button (navel).  In babies with an omphalocele, the intestines are covered only by a thin layer of tissue and can be easily seen.”[12]

Paxil Lawyer Prozac Lawyer Zoloft Lawyer Celexa Lawyer SSRI Birth Defect Lawsuit SSRI Attorney - Omphalocele - A.D.A.M 2012

Usually, surgery can correct omphalocele completely,[13] but complications may occur including “death of intestinal tissue,”[14] and “intestinal infection.”[15]

Though there is no surefire way to avoid these birth defects entirely, one way to help reduce the chance your child is born with one of these ailments is to avoid the use of SSRI medications during pregnancy such as Zoloft®, Paxil®, Prozac®, Celexa®, Lexapro® and others.

Due to the fact that none of these SSRI medications have included adequate warnings regarding increased risk for anencephaly, craniosynostosis, or omphalocele, expecting mothers have in large numbers been unknowingly exposing their unborn children to undue risk.  Because of this, the manufacturers of these medications may be liable for the injuries their products incur, and many SSRI birth defect lawsuits are currently being filed.

If you or a loved one used SSRIs during pregnancy and your child was born with anencephaly, craniosynostosis, or omphalocele, please do not hesitate to contact Justinian Lane for a free, no obligation case consultation at (855) 452-5529 or e-mail me personally at justinian@dangerousdrugs.us.  We are here to help.  We can secure the justice you and your family deserve.


[1] Alwan, S., et al. (2007) “Use of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors in Pregnancy and the Risk of Birth Defects” The New England Journal of Medicine Vol. 356; pp. 2684-2692

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Anencephaly” PubMed Health.  U.S. National Library of Medicine. © 2012 A.D.A.M., Inc. Available at <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002547/> Accessed 29 January 2013

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] “Craniosynostosis” PubMed Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine © 2012 A.D.A.M., Inc. Availavle at <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002557/> Accessed 29 January 2013

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] “Omphalocele” PubMed Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. © 2012 A.D.A.M. Available at <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001989/> Accessed 29 January 2013

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

It has been recently found that babies of mothers who filled prescriptions for more than one SSRI during pregnancy were four times as likely to be born with septal heart defects as were other babies born to mothers who did not use SSRIs during pregnancy.  If uncorrected, this birth defect, characterized by a malformation of the wall that divides the left and right portions of the heart, can result in a lack of oxygen in the blood, possibly leading to poor brain growth or development in the newborn.

While the overall risk for this ailment in newborns remains low – about 0.5%,[1] an four-fold increase in the rate of septal heart defects is a very serious, avoidable issue.  Examples of SSRIs that may place newborns at risk for this are Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, and Lexapro.

The website WebMD comments:

“In 2005, based on the research at the time, the FDA singled out the drug Paxil, warning that its use was associated with an increased risk for heart defect.

It has since become common practice for doctors to switch women taking Paxil to another SSRI when they become pregnant or are considering pregnancy.

But more recent studies suggest that women who take Paxil have no greater risk for delivering babies with the heart defect than women who take other antidepressants.

In the Danish study, use of Celexa and Zoloft early in pregnancy was associated with a small increased risk for the heart defect…”[2]

If your child or a loved one’s child was born with a septal heart defect or another SSRI birth defect, you may be entitled to monetary compensation by means of an SSRI side-effect lawsuit.  For a free consultation, please contact Justinian Lane at (855) 452-5529 or by e-mail at justinian@dangerousdrugs.us.  Our compassionate team members have the skills and resources required to secure the justice your family deserves.


[1] Brooks, Megan. “More Evidence SSRIs in Pregnancy Boost Birth Defect Risk” June 28, 2011 Medscape © 2011 WebMD, LLC. Available at <http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/745430> Accessed 21 January 2013

[2] Boyles, Salynn. “Antidepressants Linked to Birth Defect” Sept. 24, 2009. Reviewed by Louise Change, M.D. © 2009 WebMD, LLC.  Available at <http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20090924/antidepressants-linked-to-birth-defect> Accessed 21 January 2013

A birth defect recently found to be associated with maternal use of SSRI drugs during pregnancy,[1] aortic stenosis is characterized by the aortic valve failing to open fully, decreasing blood flow from the heart[2] through the aorta, “the main artery carrying blood out of the heart.”[3]  Specifically, aortic stenosis has been found to be connected maternal use of fluoxetine (Prozac®) by Diav-Citrin et al. through a study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology titled “Paroxetine and fluoxetine in pregnancy: a prospective, multicentre, controlled, observational study”.

PubMed Health, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, states that “as the aortic valve becomes more narrow, the left ventricle has to increase pressure to pump blood out through the valve. … As the pressure continues to rise, blood may back up into the lungs.  Severe forms of aortic stenosis prevent enough blood from reaching the brain and the rest of the body.”[4]

Zoloft Lawyer SSRI Lawsuit SSRI Birth Defect Attorney Aortic Stenosis - ADAM 2012
Aortic Stenosis

Symptoms of Aortic Stenosis

  • Breathlessness with activity
  • Chest pain, angina-type
  • Crushing, squeezing, pressure, tightness
  • Pain increases with exercise, is relieved with rest
  • Pain is felt under the chest bone but may move to other areas, most often the left side of the chest
  • Faintingweakness, or dizziness with activity
  • Sensation of feeling the heart beat (palpitations)
  • In infants and children, symptoms include:
  • Becoming easily tired with exertion (in mild cases)
  • Failure to gain weight
  • Poor feeding
  • Serious breathing problems that develop within days or weeks of birth (in severe cases)
  • Children with mild or moderate aortic stenosis may get worse as they get older. They also run the risk of developing a heart infection (bacterial endocarditis).”[5]

Though monitoring by a physician and medication together are usually sufficient for treating aortic stenosis, a replacement valve is sometimes required surgery is sometimes required to allow sufficient blood to flow from the heart.[6]  And though “stenosis can be cured with surgery”[7] surgery is no guarantee of long-term health: “After surgery, there is a risk for irregular heart rhythms, which can cause sudden death, and blood clots, which can cause a stroke.”[8]

Possible complications of aortic stenosis are stated to be:

  • “Angina (chest pain)
  • Arrhythmias
  • Endocarditis
  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Left-sided heart failure
  • Left ventricular hypertrophy (heart wall thickening) caused by the extra work of pushing blood through the narrowed valve”[9]

As a result of aortic stenosis having being linked to Prozac® use during pregnancy, Prozac® lawsuits are currently being filed to seek compensation for families whose loved ones have been victims of these unintended Prozac® side-effects.  If you used Prozac or any other antidepressant during pregnancy and your child was born with aortic stenosis, please do not hesitate to contact our legal team at (855) 452-5529 or by e-mail at justinian@dangerousdrugs.us for a free consultation.  We can provide the help you deserve.


[1] Diav-Citrin, O. et al. (2008) “Paroxetine and fluoxetine in pregnancy: a prospective, multicentre, controlled, observational study” British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology Vol. 66, No. 5; pp. 695-705.

[2] “Aortic Stenosis – PubMed Health” PubMed Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine © 2012 A.D.A.M., Inc. available at <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001230/> accessed 21 January 2013

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that infants born to mothers who used selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs, a type of antidepressant medication) late in pregnancy were placed at increased risk of serious birth defects, such as persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN).

First, some background on PPHN.  One way to explain persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn is to say that it is a disease in which a newborn’s circulatory system does not mature at birth, for in this disease, blood continues to bypass the lungs as it did before birth.

In the womb, a fetus does not use its lungs, and thus its lungs do not require much blood.  Oxygen enters a fetus’s body and is circulated throughout without ever passing by the lungs, coming directly from the mother’s blood, “through special connections in the heart and the large blood vessels.”[1]

At birth, the lungs begin to breathe air, and the resulting change in pressure “helps close the fetal connections and redirect blood flow,”[2] drawing blood toward the lungs where it is loaded with fresh oxygen before being circulated throughout the body.

In newborns with PPHN, however, “these changes may not occur and the baby’s circulation returns back to the fetal system with blood directed away from the lungs.”[3]  Because of this, newborns with PPHN may not get sufficient oxygen to internal organs, resulting in a variety of problems.  Read more on the danger of PPHN here.

Conducted by Dr. Christina D. Chambers and her team, this study asked mothers whose children were born with PPHN about their use of selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors during pregnancy and compared the findings to data from mothers whose children were not born with PPHN.

Chambers and her team found that if mothers used any SSRI after the 20th week of pregnancy, infants were more than five times as likely to be born with PPHN as were infants born to mothers who did not use SSRIs during pregnancy.[4]  When mothers used SSRIs after the 26th week of pregnancy, infants were found to be more than six times as likely to be born with PPHN as were infants whose mother did not use these drugs.  SSRIs whose danger was evaluated in this study were fluoxetine (Prozac®), sertraline (Zoloft®), and paroxetine (Paxil®).

Because the danger these drugs pose to newborns was not evaluated relative to one another, we cannot conclude that any one of these drugs is either more dangerous or more benign than any other.  And because of that, we must treat Prozac®, Zoloft®, and Paxil® with equal caution, avoiding them all during pregnancy, especially late in gestation.

Due to these dangerous antidepressant side-effects of which mothers were not made aware, Prozac lawsuits, Zoloft lawsuits, and Paxil lawsuits are currently being filed.  If you believe your newborn has fallen victim to PPHN caused by antidepressants, please contact me today for a free consultation.  You can call toll-free at (855) 452-5529 or e-mail me at justinian@dangerousdrugs.us.


[1] “Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension” Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters Health System © 2013 Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters available at <http://www.chkd.com/g/content.aspx?pageid=P02400> reviewed 6 August 2011, accessed 21 January 2013

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Chambers, C. et al. (2006) “Selective Serotonin-Reuptake Inhibitors and Risk of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn” The New England Journal of Medicine Vol. 354, No. 6; pp. 579-587

A recent study by Carol Louik, et al. published in the New England Journal of Medicine has evaluated the risk of birth defects among infants born to mothers who used a type of antidepressant medication called selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy, as compared to the risk among infants whose mothers did not use such drugs during pregnancy.  Some of the results the Louik team found were shocking.

Infants whose mothers used the drug sertraline (Zoloft®) during the first trimester of pregnancy were found to be 5.7 times more likely to be born with omphalocele,[1] a disease defined by the National Institutes of Health as “a birth defect in which the infant’s intestine or other abdominal organs stick out of the belly button (navel).  In babies with an omphalocele, the intestines are covered only by a thin layer of tissue and can be easily seen.”[2]

While this disease is usually corrected with surgery,[3] it may result in “death of the intestinal tissue”[4] or “intestinal infection”[5] – both of which are very serious ailments for a newborn.

The Louik study also found that infants whose mothers used Zoloft® in the first trimester were twice as likely as other infants to be born with septal defects,[6] a type of heart malformation in which one of holes that normally exists between the chambers of the heart before birth does not close at birth.[7]  There are two different kinds of septal defects – atrial septal defects and ventricular septal defects.  If the hole between the atria (the two upper chambers of the heart) does not close at birth, the condition is termed an atrial septal defect (ASD).  If the hole between the right and left ventricals of the heart does not close by birth, the resulting condition is termed a ventrical septal defect (VSD).

Depending on the size of the septal defect, it may close on its own shortly after birth without complication.  If the septal defect is larger, however, the newborn infant may require heart surgery to close the opening and ensure normal heart functioning.

MedlinePlus, a medical encyclopedia provided by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, cautions:

“People with a larger or more complicated ASD are at an increased risk for developing a number of problems, including:

  • Arrhythmias, particularly atrial fibrillation
  • Heart failure
  • Heart infections (endocarditis)
  • High blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs (pulmonary hypertension)
  • Stroke”[8]

Because the Louik article so clearly illustrates the undue risks that SSRI drugs such as Zoloft® present to unborn children, this article could help provide convincing evidence of the dangers of Zoloft® in a Zoloft® lawsuit.

If you were prescribed Zoloft® during pregnancy and your child was born with omphalocele or a septal defect, please do not hesitate to contact our law firm for a free consultation.  We are here to help.


[1] Louik, C. et al. (2007) “First-Trimester Use of Selective Serotonin-Reuptake Inhibitors and the Risk of Birth Defects” The New England Journal of Medicine Vol. 356, No. 26. p. 2675-2683

[2] “Omphalocele – PubMed Health” U.S. National Library of Medicine © 2011 A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia  available at <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001989/> accessed 10 January 2013

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Louik, C. et al. (2007) “First-Trimester Use of Selective Serotonin-Reuptake Inhibitors and the Risk of Birth Defects” The New England Journal of Medicine Vol. 356, No. 26. p. 2675-2683

[7] “Atrial septal defect (ASD): MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia” MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health. © 1997-2013 A.D.A.M. Medical Enclopedia available at <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000157.htm> accessed 10 January 2013

[8] Ibid

A recent study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, in connection with the Journal of the American Medical Association, by Dr. Lisa A. Croen (et al.) has revealed a connection between mothers who use selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors, (SSRIs – a new type of antidepressant medication) and the development of Autism Spectrum Disorder in their children.

Examples of commonly-used SSRI drugs include Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, and Lexapro.

The Croen team gathered data by surveying 298 mothers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder with regard to their use of medication during pregnancy, and comparing the medication use reported by those mothers to that of 1507 other mothers whose children were born without Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Through statistical analyses, it was found that children born to mothers who used SSRIs during pregnancy were twice as likely to be born with Autism Spectrum Disorder, compared to children born to mothers who had not used SSRI drugs during pregnancy.[1]

Children born to mothers who used SSRI drugs such as Zoloft during the first trimester of pregnancy, were found to be at an even greater risk of being born with Autism Spectrum Disorder – nearly four times greater than the risk faced by children whose mothers had not used SSRI drugs at all during pregnancy.[2]

If you or a loved one used SSRI drugs such as Zoloft during pregnancy and your child now suffers from Autism Spectrum disorder, you may be entitled to compensation from a Zoloft lawsuit.  Our Zoloft lawyers have the experience and tools required to help protect your rights.  Contact Justinian Lane by phone at (855) 452-5529 or by e-mail at justinian@dangerousdrugs.us for a free consultation.  We are here to help.


[1] Croen, L.A., et al. (2011) “Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy and Childhood Autism Spectrum Disorders” Arch Gen Psychiatry Vol. 68, No. 11. November, 2011. p. 1104-1112

[2] Croen, L.A., et al. (2011) “Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy and Childhood Autism Spectrum Disorders” Arch Gen Psychiatry Vol. 68, No. 11. November, 2011. p. 1104-1112