Heart Defects and Paxil Side Effects

Heart defects and Paxil side effects may be linked when Paxil is taken while pregnant and lawyers in the US are filing Paxil lawsuits on behalf of birth defect affected families.  If your child was born with heart defects and Paxil use is suspected, contact a Paxil attorney to discuss legal options.

An emerging body of research has indicated that the popular antidepressant drug Paxil may be linked to the development of severe heart defect side effects among children exposed to the drug during pregnancy. Paxil belongs to a class of antidepressant drugs called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which work by restoring the balance of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Paxil was initially approved by the FDA in 1992 to treat major depressive disorder, and has since been indicated for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, major panic disorder and social anxiety disorder. Paxil (paroxetine) is currently manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and is considered one of the most frequently-prescribed antidepressant drugs in the U.S. Unfortunately, new Paxil side effect information has raised concerns about the safety of the drug, especially in treating pregnant women. If you took Paxil while pregnant and your child was born with a side effect like a heart defect, contact a Paxil attorney to discuss your legal options.

Heart Defects Described

A congenital heart defect is a type of malformation present at birth which affects the walls of the heart, obstructs the flow of blood in the heart, or causes blood to flow through the heart in an irregular manner. Heart defects are the most common type of Paxil birth defect and unfortunately, are also the leading cause of birth defect-related death among infants. Some heart defects are minor and require little to no treatment, although more than half of infants born with a heart defects require medical care for the malformation, sometimes including surgery. Two of the most common types of heart defects are atrial septal defects and ventricular septal defects.

Atrial Septal Defects

An atrial septal defect is characterized by a hole in the wall of the heart which separates the right and left atria. This malformation allows oxygenated blood from the left atrium to flow through to the right atrium, where it mixes with oxygen-poor blood. As a result, pressure in the lungs may increase, which can lead to catastrophic side effects, including heart failure. Common symptoms of atrial septal defects include shortness of breath, respiratory infections, heart palpitations and difficulty breathing.

Ventricular Septal Defects

Ventricular septal defects are similar in nature to atrial septal defects, but are characterized by a hole in the wall separating the left and right ventricles of the heart. Ventricular septal defects are relatively common birth defects and can sometimes repair themselves over time without requiring treatment. However, in cases where the defect is large, it may allow an excessive amount of blood to flow to the lungs, which can lead to increased pressure and possibly even heart failure. Common symptoms of ventricular septal defects include frequent respiratory infections, shortness of breath, sweating while feeding, rapid breathing and failure to gain weight.

FDA Warnings and Paxil Side Effect Studies

In 2005, the FDA issued a public health advisory warning patients and healthcare professionals about the increased risk of congenital malformations, namely heart and limb defects, among infants exposed to the SSRI antidepressant Paxil in utero. This FDA warning was based on the results of two epidemiology studies in which researchers observed a 1.5- to 2-times increased risk of heart defects among children whose mothers took Paxil during early pregnancy. Most of the heart malformations in children exposed to Paxil in these studies were atrial septal defects and ventricular septal defects. In 2006, the FDA issued an additional public health advisory warning the public about the increased risk of a severe heart and lung defect called PPHN among children exposed to Paxil or other SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy. This advisory was influenced by a New England Journal of Medicine study published earlier that year in which researchers indicated a six-times increased risk of PPHN among children whose mothers took an SSRI like Paxil after the twentieth week of pregnancy.  Warnings of cleft lip and cleft palate birth defects, as well as anal atresia side effects, also came into light due to these studies.

Paxil Use in Pregnancy

The FDA has elevated the pregnancy category of Paxil from C to D, which means there is positive human evidence of the drug's potential to cause severe fetal harm when taken during pregnancy. If you are currently taking Paxil and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your healthcare provider to discuss alternative treatment options. It is never advised to suddenly discontinue use of a prescription medication, but with your doctor's help, you may be able to find a safer way to treat your condition.

Paxil Attorneys for Side Effects

Heart defects can be extremely dangerous, especially if they affect the flow of blood through the heart and to the rest of the body. If you or a loved one has suffered from a heart defect side effect and you believe Paxil to be the cause, contact a Paxil attorney to discuss your options for legal recourse. You may have grounds to file a Paxil lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline 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 dangerous pharmaceutical drug, and you should not be held accountable for the resulting consequences. By hiring a qualified Paxil lawyer to represent their case, victims of potential Paxil side effects can protect their rights and collect the compensation they deserve.

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