Anal atresia, or “imperforate anus,” is a congenital birth defect “in which the opening to the anus is missing or blocked.”[1]  PubMed Health, a prominent online medical encyclopedia curated by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, states that anal atresia may manifest in several different ways:

  • “The rectum may end in a blind pouch that does not connect with the colon.
  • The rectum may have openings to the urethra, bladder, base of the penis or scrotum in boys, or vagina in girls.
  • There may be narrowing (stenosis) of the anus or no anus.”[2]

Signs that your child was born with anal atresia are numerous and clear.  Symptoms include “anal opening very near the vagina opening in girls,”[3] the baby failing to defecate within the first 24 to 48 hours of life,[4] “missing or moved opening to the anus,”[5] “stool [passing] out of the vagina, base of penis, scrotum, or urethra”[6].

Treatment for Anal Atresia

MedlinePlus states that when planning treatment for your baby with anal atresia, “the infant should be checked for other problems, especially those affecting the genitals, urinary tract, and spine.

Surgery to correct the defect is needed. If the rectum connects with other organs, these organs will also need to be repaired. A temporary colostomy (connecting the end of the large intestine to the abdomen wall so that stool can be collected in a bag) is often needed.”[7]

Anal Atresia Linked to Maternal SSRI Use

In 2007, medical researcher Carol Louik et al. published research illustrating a clear link between maternal use of SSRIs during pregnancy with the development of a variety of birth defects including anal atresia.[8]  SSRIs are a new type of antidepressants such as Prozac®, Paxil®, Zoloft®, Celexa®, and others, that aim to increase the levels of serotonin between brain cells by blocking the “reuptake” of serotonin back into brain cells after a nerve fires.

While serotonin had been known to play a role in mood, appetite, and sleep, it has recently been established by TW Sadler et al that serotonin also plays a role in fetal development.  So, when a mother alters her own serotonin levels, and thus alters the levels of serotonin reaching her developing child, developmental complications may ensue.

Specifically, Carol Louik and her team found that maternal use of Prozac® during pregnancy raises the risk of bearing a child with anal atresia by 40%.[9]  Maternal use of Celexa® was associated with a three-fold increased risk of anal atresia,[10] and maternal use of Zoloft® was found to raise the risk of anal atresia by a shocking 440%.[11]

Prognosis for Anal Atresia

Thankfully, the outlook for babies with anal atresia is good.  Though complications such as constipation may occur,[12] MedlinePlus reassures, writing that “Most defects can successfully be corrected with surgery. Most children with mild defects do very well.”[13]

We are Here to Help

Because the manufactures of Prozac®, Celexa®, and Zoloft®, do not include on their warning labels anything to do with the variety of birth defects for which they raise the risk for development, many SSRI birth defects lawsuits are currently being filed.  If you used Zoloft®, Celexa®, or Prozac® during pregnancy and your child was born with anal atresia, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the injuries you and your family have incurred.  For a free, no-obligation case consultation, you may contact our law firm at your convenience by phone at (855) 452-5529 or by e-mail at  We have the experience and resources required to defend the rights of your family.


[1] “Imperforate anus – PubMed Health” PubMed Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. ©2012 A.D.A.M., Inc. Available at <> Last reviewed 1 May 2011, Accessed 1 February 2013

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] 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. 365, No. 26; pp. 2675-2683

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] “Imperforate anus: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health. © 1997-2013 A.D.A.M., Inc. Available at <> Updated 24 January 2013, Accessed 1 February 2013

[13] Ibid.