Prozac and Heart Defects

Heart defects and birth defects may be the result of Prozac use in pregnancy and attorneys nationwide are filing lawsuits on behalf of affected families.  Contact a Prozac lawyer to discuss your options today if Prozac side effects have caused your family harm.

An emerging body of research has identified Prozac use during pregnancy as a potential risk factor for the development of serious Prozac side effects, particularly heart birth defects among children exposed to the drug in utero. Prozac belongs to a class of antidepressant drugs called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and functions by restoring the level of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter responsible for controlling mood. Prozac (fluoxetine) has been on the market in the U.S. since 1987, and is currently manufactured by drug maker Eli Lilly and Company. Prozac has been FDA-approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder, bulimia nervosa, panic disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Despite the fact that SSRIs are some of the most popular antidepressant drugs available, serious concerns have been raised about the safety of Prozac, especially in treating pregnant women. If you took Prozac while pregnant and your child was born with a heart birth defect like an atrial septal defect or a ventricular septal defect, contact a Prozac attorney to discuss your options for legal recourse.

Atrial Septal Defects

An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a type of congenital heart malformation, characterized by an opening in the wall that separates the right and left atria of the heart. This defect allows oxygenated blood from the left side of the heart to mix with oxygen-poor blood from the right side of the heart, causing the pressure in the lungs to increase. Atrial septal defects can lead to serious complications, including difficulty breathing, heart palpitations, shortness of breath and frequent respiratory infections.

Ventricular Septal Defects

Ventricular septal defects (VSD) are similar in nature to ASDs, but are characterized by a hole in the wall of the heart separating the right and left ventricles instead. In some cases, this type of defect is small and can actually repair itself over time without treatment. However, in instances of a large VSD, an excessive amount of blood may be allowed to flow to the lungs, which can lead to life-threatening complications like heart failure. Common symptoms of ventricular septal defects include rapid breathing, respiratory infections, shortness of breath, sweating while feeding, and failure to gain weight.

Prozac 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 the birth defect PPHN in children exposed to SSRI antidepressants like Prozac in utero. 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 Prozac or another SSRI after the twentieth week of pregnancy. PPHN, or persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, is a severe lung and heart 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 survive. In 2010, the American Journal of Medicine published a study which indicated that the prevalence of atrial and ventricular septal defects among infants exposed to an SSRI like Prozac was 0.9%, significantly higher than that among unexposed children, which was 0.5%.

Prozac in Pregnancy

The FDA has labeled Prozac a pregnancy category C medication, which means it has the potential to cause serious harm to a fetus when taken during pregnancy. If you are currently taking Prozac and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your healthcare provider to discuss alternative treatment options. 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 the help of your doctor you may be able to find a safer way to treat your condition.

Prozac Attorneys for Heart Defect Side Effects

Heart defects are one of the most common types of birth defects affecting children, and are also the leading cause of birth defect-related death among infants. If you or a loved one has suffered from a side effect which you believe to be linked to Prozac, contact an experienced Prozac attorney to discuss the benefits of filing a Prozac lawsuit against Eli Lilly and Company. The main goal of Prozac attorneys is to help victims of potential Prozac side effects seek financial compensation for their injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Too often, victims of pharmaceutical drug-related injury are taken advantage of during their time of need. By hiring a qualified Prozac lawyer to represent your case, you can collect the compensation you deserve and hold the allegedly negligent drug company liable for your injuries.

Prescription Drugs in The News