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SSRI Litigation

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs) are a class of compounds typically used as antidepressants in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, and some personality disorders. Common medications in this class of drugs include fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft). SSRIs are classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as potentially causing harm to a developing fetus if it is used during pregnancy. These drugs cross the placenta and have been associated in human studies with congenital malformations in newborns.

A recent study published in Clinical Epidemiology, found that taking SSRI's while pregnant, doubles or in some cases quadruples the risk of birth defects. The study looked at over 200,000 pregnant women from Denmark. The authors found that the risk of serious heart malformations was more than doubled when pregnant women took an SSRI in their first trimester of pregnancy. The risk was even greater with certain types of SSRI's. Zoloft was found to triple the risk of heart malformations. This is the third study showing heart defects are significantly increased with use of the drug in pregnancy.

Pregnant mothers who use these medications are at risk of pregnancy complications resulting in a variety of serious birth defects including:

Heart Defects - Research has concluded that using antidepressants during pregnancy can increase the chance of a child being born with a heart defect including coarctation or narrowing of the aorta, hypoplastic or underdeveloped left heart syndrome, heart valve abnormity and patent ductus arteriosus, atrial and ventricular septal defects or holes within the heart wall or septum.

Pulmonary Hypertension - Persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) is a serious lung condition that can occur soon after a baby is born. Babies with PPHN have high pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs and have problems getting the proper amount of oxygen into the bloodstream. A newborn with PPHN may have rapid heart and breathing rates, difficulty breathing, and blue-looking skin due to inadequate oxygen levels.

Craniofacial Defects/Cleft Palate - These craniofacial birth defects can have an adverse effect on the upper lip (cleft lip) and the roof of the mouth (cleft palate). The defect can range from a small opening in the lip to a large gap within the roof of the nose and mouth. Craniosynostosis or early fusion of skull sutures and soft spot has also been associated with these drugs resulting in a misshapen head.

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