Lexapro and PPHN Side Effects

Lexapro use and PPHN birth defects may be linked with used in pregnancy.  Lexapro attorneys nationwide are filing lawsuits for birth defects associated with antidepressant use, contact a lawyer today to discuss your legal options if your family has been affected.

Researchers have warned consumers that Lexapro and other SSRI antidepressants may no longer be considered safe, especially in the treatment of pregnant women, due to the risk of serious potential Lexapro side effects like PPHN. Lexapro has been available in the U.S. since 2002 and is currently manufactured by drug maker Forest Laboratories. Lexapro (escitalopram) belongs to a group of antidepressant drugs called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which function by restoring the level of serotonin in the brain. Since its introduction, Lexapro has been approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, and has become one of the most frequently prescribed antidepressant drugs on the market. However, recent studies have raised serious concerns about the safety of Lexapro and other SSRI antidepressants, due to their possible connection to life-threatening side effects like persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) . If you took Lexapro while pregnant and your child was born with a potential Lexapro birth defect like PPHN, contact a Lexapro attorney to discuss your legal options.

PPHN Symptoms

Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn is a life-threatening lung and heart defect in which a child's circulation continues to bypass the lungs after birth. When a child is in the womb, the lungs aren't required in the exchange of oxygen because the placenta provides the baby with the oxygen it needs through the umbilical cord. Once the baby is born however, the body adapts to breathing outside the womb and the lungs inflate. In children born with PPHN, the body fails to make this change, and the circulation continues to bypass the lungs. Although children with PPHN can breathe, oxygen in the breathed air will not reach the bloodstream to be distributed to the rest of the body. Common symptoms of PPHN include:

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

PPHN Treatment and Prognosis

Without an adequate supply of oxygen, the body's vital organs and tissues will become damaged and begin to die. The main goal of PPHN treatment is to deliver the maximum amount of oxygen possible to the rest of the child's body. Common methods of PPHN treatment include:

  • Administering 100% supplemental oxygen
  • High-frequency oscillatory ventilation
  • Nitric acid administration
  • Extracorporal membrane oxygenation

Unfortunately, even with treatment some children with PPHN will continue to deliver an inadequate amount of oxygen to the rest of the body, which can lead to life-threatening complications like seizures, brain hemorrhages, heart failure, multiple organ damage, and death.

Lexapro Side Effect Studies and FDA Warnings

In 2006, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study in which researchers found an alarming six-fold increased risk of PPHN among children whose mothers took an SSRI antidepressant like Lexapro after the twentieth week of pregnancy. According to researchers, up to twelve out of 1,000 infants exposed to an SSRI 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. In response to this study, the FDA issued a public health advisory that same year, warning patients and healthcare professionals about the increased risk of PPHN in children exposed to Lexapro and other SSRI drugs in utero.

Lexapro Use During Pregnancy

The FDA has labeled Lexapro a pregnancy category C medication, which means it may cause serious harm to a fetus when taken during pregnancy. If you are currently taking Lexapro and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your healthcare provider for help. 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 Lexapro for treating your medical condition.

Lexapro Attorneys for PPHN Side Effects

Lung defects like PPHN are extremely dangerous, and can lead to death for affected newborns. If you or a loved one has suffered from a birth defect like PPHN and you believe Lexapro to be the cause, contact a Lexapro attorney to discuss your options for legal recourse. You may have grounds to file a Lexapro lawsuit against Forest Laboratories in order to seek financial compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. You are not at fault for any injuries caused by a defective drug, and you should not be held responsible for the resulting consequences. Drug companies are expected to produce safe and effective medications, and should be held liable for any adverse side effects sustained by consumers of their products. Unfortunately, some pharmaceutical companies intentionally conceal the more serious side effects of their drugs in an attempt to make their products more appealing to the public. With the help of an experienced Lexapro lawyer, victims of potential Lexapro side effects can protect their rights and bring public attention to the potentially harmful nature of the SSRI antidepressant Lexapro.

Prescription Drugs in The News