Celexa and PPHN Side Effects

Researchers have identified the use of the antidepressant Celexa during pregnancy as a potential risk factor for the development of serious side effects, including the birth defect PPHN. Celexa is currently manufactured by drug maker Forest Laboratories, and has been on the market in the U.S. since 1998. Since then, Celexa (citalopram) has been prescribed off-label to treat anxiety, panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, although the drug has only been approved as a treatment for major depressive disorder. Celexa is one of a group of antidepressant medications called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. SSRI antidepressants function by restoring the level of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter responsible for controlling mood. By doing so, Celexa and other SSRI antidepressants can effectively relieve depression and improve certain mood disorders.

Unfortunately, Celexa side effect information indicates that this drug may no longer be considered safe, especially in treating pregnant women or women of childbearing age. In fact, recent studies have suggested that women who take Celexa during pregnancy may have a significantly increased risk of giving birth to children with serious birth defect side effects, including persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). If you took Celexa while pregnant and your child was born with a severe birth defect like PPHN, contact a Celexa attorney to discuss your options for legal recourse.

PPHN Signs and Symptoms

Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn is a major heart and lung birth defect in which a child's circulation continues to bypass the lungs after birth, depriving the rest of the body of the oxygen it needs to function. When a child is still in utero, the lungs aren't yet required in the exchange of oxygen, because the placenta provides the baby with the oxygen it needs through the umbilical cord. When the baby is born, the body typically adjusts to breathing outside the womb and the lungs inflate. In children with PPHN however, the body fails to make this change, and the circulation continues to bypass the lungs. Although children with PPHN can breathe, oxygen from the breathed air will not reach the bloodstream to be supplied to the rest of the body. As a result, symptoms of PPHN usually include:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Cyanosis (bluish tint to the skin)
  • Respiratory distress

PPHN Treatment and Prognosis

The main goal of PPHN treatment is to deliver the maximum amount of oxygen possible to the body's tissues and organs in order to prevent serious damage. Methods of PPHN treatment include 100% oxygen administration, high-frequency oscillatory ventilation, nitric acid administration, and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in severe instances. Unfortunately, even with treatment, some children with PPHN will continue to supply an inadequate amount of oxygen to the rest of the body. This may lead to significant complications, including kidney failure, brain hemorrhages, heart failure, seizures, multiple organ damage and death.

FDA Warnings and Celexa Side Effect Studies

In 2006, the FDA issued a public health advisory warning patients and healthcare providers about the increased risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn in children whose mothers take SSRI antidepressants like Celexa while pregnant. This warning was based on the results of a New England Journal of Medicine study in which researchers found that children exposed to SSRI antidepressants like Celexa in utero had an alarming six-times increased risk of developing PPHN. According to the study, up to twelve out of 1,000 infants exposed to an SSRI antidepressant during pregnancy were born with PPHN, compared to the expected rate among the general population, which is one to two infants out of 1,000.

Celexa Use in Pregnancy

Celexa has been classified by the FDA as a pregnancy category C medication, which means it has the potential to cause serious fetal harm when taken during pregnancy. If you are currently taking Celexa and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your healthcare provider immediately. You should never suddenly stop taking a prescription drug, as this may cause further harm to you or your child. However, with your doctor's help, you may be able to find a safer alternative to Celexa for treating your condition.

Celexa Attorneys for Side Effects

Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn is an extremely serious and potentially life-threatening condition requiring immediate medical care. If you or a loved one has suffered from a birth defect or another major side effect, and you believe Celexa to be the cause, contact a qualified Celexa attorney to discuss your legal options. You may have grounds to file a Celexa lawsuit against Forest Laboratories in order to seek financial compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. The main goals of Celexa attorneys are to help injured victims protect their rights and hold the allegedly negligent drug maker liable for their injuries. Too often, victims of pharmaceutical drug-related injuries are taken advantage of during their time of need. With the help of an experienced Celexa lawyer, victims of potential Celexa side effects can collect the compensation they deserve and protect themselves and their family from further harm.

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