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SSRI Use during Pregnancy Raises Risk of Serious Birth Defects

Posted in Generic Drugs, Paxil Birth Defects, Prozac Birth Defects, Zoloft Birth Defects

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.