Side effect studies and FDA warnings have indicated that the antidepressant drug Celexa may be linked to an increased risk of major birth defects among children exposed to the drug during pregnancy. Celexa belongs to a class of antidepressant medications called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These drugs function by restoring the level of serotonin in the brain, thereby relieving depression and improving certain mood disorders. Celexa (citalopram) has been on the U.S. market since 1998 when it was FDA-approved to treat major depressive disorder, although the drug is often prescribed off-label for conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and panic disorder as well. Celexa is currently manufactured by pharmaceutical company Forest Laboratories. Although SSRI antidepressants like Celexa are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs available in the U.S., the results of Celexa side effect studies have raised concerns about the safety of the drug, especially in treating pregnant women and women of childbearing age. If you or a loved one has suffered from a potential Celexa side effect, contact a Celexa attorney to discuss your legal options.

Potential Celexa Birth Defects

According to a number of Celexa side effect studies, infants whose mothers take the antidepressant Celexa may have a considerably increased risk of developing birth defects like:

  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN)
  • Heart defects
  • Neural tube birth defects
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Anal atresia
  • Cleft palate
  • Limb defects
  • Omphalocele

While some of these birth defects are treatable and reversible, others like PPHN and neural tube defects, may cause life-altering complications and possibly even death.

Celexa Side Effect Studies and FDA Warnings

One of the most revealing Celexa side effect studies was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006. According to researchers, children whose mothers take SSRI drugs like Celexa after the twentieth week of pregnancy were a shocking six times more likely to develop PPHN than infants whose mothers received no antidepressant treatment while pregnant. PPHN is a serious heart and lung condition in which a newborn's circulation continues to bypass the lungs after birth, depriving the rest of the body of oxygen. The NEJM report indicated that up to twelve out of 1,000 infants exposed to an SSRI like Celexa in utero were born with PPHN, compared to the expected rate among the general population, which is one to two out of 1,000 infants. Shortly after this study was released, the FDA issued a public health advisory warning patients and healthcare professionals about the increased risk of PPHN among infants exposed to SSRI drugs like Celexa during pregnancy.

Two additional studies published in the NEJM the following year found equally alarming results. According to the first study, infants whose mothers took an SSRI like Celexa during pregnancy were nearly twice as likely to develop anal atresia, limb defects and club foot. Researchers also found a possible connection between SSRIs and neural tube defects, cleft palate and cleft lip. The second study indicated that infants born to women who took Celexa or another SSRI while pregnant were more than twice as likely to develop devastating birth defects like anencephaly, craniosynostosis and omphalocele.

Celexa Use During Pregnancy

The FDA has classified Celexa as a pregnancy category C medication, which means the drug may cause harm to a fetus when taken during pregnancy. If you are currently taking Celexa and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your physician immediately. You should never stop taking a prescription drug without medical consent, 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

If you or a loved one has suffered from a birth defect which you believe to be linked to the use of Celexa, contact a 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. Pharmaceutical companies like Forest are responsible for producing and distributing safe medications, and should be held accountable for any adverse side effects sustained by consumers of their products. Unfortunately this isn't always the case. Too often, victims of pharmaceutical drug-related injuries are taken advantage of during their time of need by deceptive drug companies. By hiring a Celexa attorney to represent their case, victims of Celexa side effects can protect themselves from further harm and seek timely and fair reimbursement for their injuries.

Prescription Drugs in The News