Lexapro and Neural Tube Defect Side Effects

Lexapro side effects like neural tube birth defects can have life-threatening consequences for affected children, which may result in Lexapro lawsuits. Contact a Lexapro attorney to explore your compensation options.

The antidepressant Lexapro may be linked to a number of serious Lexapro side effects, including neural tube birth defects in children exposed to the drug during pregnancy. Lexapro has been available in the U.S. since 2002, when it garnered FDA approval, and is commonly used in the treatment of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Lexapro (escitalopram) belongs to a class of antidepressant drugs called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and functions by restoring the balance of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Lexapro has become one of the most frequently prescribed antidepressant drugs available, and is currently manufactured by drug maker Forest Laboratories. Despite the popularity of Lexapro however, serious concerns have been raised about the safety of this drug, especially when taken during pregnancy. If you took Lexapro while pregnant and your child was born with a neural tube birth defect, contact a Lexapro attorney immediately, as your child may be entitled to lifetime care.

Neural Tube Defect Symptoms

Neural tube birth defects are caused by the failure of the neural tube to close completely during fetal development. The neural tube is the precursor to a child's central nervous system, which includes the spinal cord and brain. A neural tube birth defect is characterized by an opening in the brain or spinal cord, which can cause complications like loss of sensation in parts of the body, intellectual disability, paralysis, muscle weakness, lack of coordination, and incontinence.


One of the most severe types of neural tube defect is anencephaly, a catastrophic birth defect in which the head end of the neural tube fails to close properly as the child is developing in utero. In children born with anencephaly, a large portion of the brain, scalp and skull are absent, sometimes leaving brain tissue exposed. Children with this birth defect are born without a forebrain and a cerebrum, two integral parts of a functioning brain. Newborns with anencephaly are typically born blind, unconscious, deaf, and unable to feel pain. Although some children with this malformation may exhibit reflexes like responses to touch or sound, the lack of a functioning cerebrum makes it impossible for them to ever regain consciousness. Most children with anencephaly survive only a few hours after birth.

Lexapro Side Effect Studies and FDA Warnings

In 2006, the FDA issued a public health advisory warning patients and healthcare professionals about the increased risk of a serious birth defect called PPHN in children exposed to SSRI antidepressants like Lexapro during pregnancy. This FDA warning was based on the results of a New England Journal of Medicine study published earlier that year, in which researchers found an alarming six-fold increased risk of PPHN in children whose mothers took Lexapro or another SSRI after the twentieth week of pregnancy.

The following year, the NEJM published two additional studies, the first of which indicated that women who took an SSRI during early pregnancy were nearly twice as likely to give birth to children with birth defects like club foot, anal atresia and limb defects. Researchers also found a possible link between SSRI drugs and side effects like neural tube birth defects, cleft palate and cleft lip. In the second study, researchers found that children born to women who took an SSRI like Lexapro while pregnant were more than twice as likely to develop devastating birth defects like craniosynostosis, anencephaly, and omphalocele.

Lexapro Use in Pregnancy

The FDA has labeled Lexapro a pregnancy category C medication, which means it may cause serious fetal harm when taken during pregnancy. If you are currently taking Lexapro and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, contact your healthcare provider immediately. It is never advised to 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 Lexapro for treating your condition.

Lexapro Attorneys for Side Effects

Neural tube birth defects are some of the most severe side effects potentially associated with SSRI antidepressants like Lexapro, and some of these malformations may even be fatal. If you or a loved one has suffered from a drug side effect which you believe to be linked to Lexapro, contact an experienced Lexapro attorney to discuss the benefits of filing a Lexapro lawsuit against Forest Laboratories. The main goal of potential Lexapro lawsuits is to help injured victims protect their rights and seek financial compensation for their injuries, the medical expenses resulting from injury treatment, and the pain and suffering endured by victims and their families. Drug companies are responsible for the safety of their medications, and should be held liable for any adverse side effects sustained by consumers of their products. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. With the help of a qualified Lexapro lawyer, victims of potential Lexapro side effects can bring public attention to the allegedly harmful nature of the antidepressant drug, possibly preventing further injury in the future.

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