Prozac and Neural Tube Birth Defect Side Effects

Neural tube defects and Prozac use during pregnancy may be linked and attorneys are filing lawsuits for Prozac side effects leading to birth defects when used while pregnant.  Contact a Prozac attorney to discuss your legal options if your child has been affected.

Researchers have identified Prozac use in pregnancy as a potential risk factor for the development of serious side effects among exposed children. Prozac (fluoxetine) has been on the U.S. market since 1987, when it initially garnered FDA approval. Since its introduction, Prozac has been used in the treatment of major depressive disorder, bulimia nervosa, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and panic disorder, and is currently manufactured by Eli Lilly and Company. Prozac belongs to a class of medications called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which function by restoring the level of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter responsible for affecting mood. By doing so, Prozac and other SSRI drugs can effectively relieve depression and improve certain mood disorders. Unfortunately, recent studies have established a potential link between SSRIs like Prozac and the development of Prozac side effects, like neural tube birth defects, among children exposed to one or more of the drugs during pregnancy.

Neural Tube Birth Defect Symptoms

Neural tube birth defects occur when a child's neural tube fails to form properly as the child is developing in utero. The neural tube is the child's precursor to the central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord. When there is a problem with the formation of the neural tube, preventing the cells from fusing together completely, a neural tube birth defect may occur. Neural tube defects are severe malformations, often causing life-altering symptoms like paralysis, incontinence, intellectual disability and lack of concentration.


Anencephaly is one of the most severe types of neural tube birth defect, characterized by the absence of a large portion of the brain, skull and scalp. Anencephaly occurs when the head end of the neural tube fails to close properly during fetal development, resulting in the absence of the forebrain and cerebrum, two integral parts of a functioning brain. Children with anencephaly are typically born blind, unconscious, deaf and unable to feel pain, and the lack of a functioning cerebrum makes it impossible for them to ever regain consciousness. Most children born with anencephaly survive only a few hours after birth.

FDA Warnings and Prozac Side Effect Studies

The FDA issued a public healthcare advisory in 2006 warning patients and healthcare professionals about the increased risk of the heart and lung defect PPHN in children exposed to SSRI antidepressants like Prozac in pregnancy. This FDA notice came on the heels of a New England Journal of Medicine study, in which researchers found an alarming six-times increased risk of PPHN in children whose mothers took an SSRI like Prozac after the twentieth week of pregnancy. In 2007, the NEJM published two additional studies in an attempt to reveal the potential adverse effects of fetal exposure to Prozac and other SSRI antidepressants. The first study indicated that children born to women who took an SSRI while pregnant were more than twice as likely to be born with catastrophic birth defects like anencephaly, craniosynostosis and omphalocele. According to the second study, children whose mothers took an SSRI during the first trimester of pregnancy were nearly twice as likely to be born with birth defects like limb defects, club foot and anal atresia. Researchers also found a potential link between SSRIs and neural tube birth defects, cleft lip and cleft palate.

Prozac Use During Pregnancy

The FDA has classified Prozac as 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. You should never abruptly stop taking a prescription medication, 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 form of treatment for your medical condition.

Prozac Attorneys for Side Effects

Neural tube birth defects represent some of the most serious side effects potentially linked to Prozac and other SSRI antidepressants. If you or a loved one has suffered from a side effect which you believe to be associated with Prozac, contact a Prozac attorney to discuss your legal options. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering, which you can collect by filing a Prozac lawsuit against Eli Lilly and Company. Drug makers like Eli Lilly 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. By hiring a qualified Prozac lawyer to represent their case, victims of potential Prozac side effects can protect their rights and collect the compensation they deserve.

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