Prozac and PPHN Side Effects

Prozac and PPHN, or Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn, may be related when Prozac is used during pregnancy and attorneys around the US are filing Prozac lawsuits on behalf of affected families.

Recent studies and FDA warnings have indicated that the antidepressant drug Prozac may be linked to severe Prozac side effects, particularly the development of birth defects among children exposed to the drug in utero. Prozac (fluoxetine) has been on the market in the U.S. since 1987, as has since been FDA-approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, bulimia nervosa and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Prozac belongs to a class of antidepressant drugs called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which function by restoring the balance of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter responsible for controlling mood. Prozac is currently manufactured by Eli Lilly and Company, and, as of 2007, was the third most commonly prescribed antidepressant drug on the market, with 22.2 million prescriptions filled.

Despite the fact that Eli Lilly marketed Prozac as the first SSRI antidepressant drug, three other SSRIs actually preceded the introduction of Prozac. However, two of these SSRI drugs were withdrawn due to adverse side effects, and Eli Lilly went to great lengths to promote Prozac to the public as a scientific breakthrough. Unfortunately, recent research has identified Prozac use as a potential risk factor for the development of major side effects, especially when taken during pregnancy. If you took Prozac while pregnant and your child was born with a serious side effect or Prozac birth defect, contact a Prozac attorney to discuss your legal options.

PPHN Symptoms

Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) is a life-threatening lung and heart birth defect in which a child's circulation continues to bypass the lungs after birth, preventing the rest of the body from receiving the oxygen it needs to survive. When a baby is in the womb, the lungs aren't yet necessary in the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, because the placenta provides the baby with the oxygen it needs through the umbilical cord. Under normal circumstances, when the baby is born, the body "switches over" and adjusts to breathing outside the womb. In children born with PPHN however, the body fails to make this change and the circulation continues to bypass the lungs. Symptoms of PPHN include rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, respiratory distress and cyanosis (bluish tint to the skin).

PPHN Treatment and Prognosis

Although children with PPHN can breathe, oxygen from the breathed air cannot reach the bloodstream to be distributed to the body's vital organs and tissues. The main goal of PPHN treatment is to deliver the maximum amount of oxygen possible to the rest of the body in order to prevent mass organ damage. Common methods of PPHN treatment include 100% supplemental oxygen, high-frequency oscillatory ventilation, nitric acid administration (to improve blood flow), and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in cases of severe heart and lung failure. Although PPHN treatment is successful in some instances, even children who receive treatment may continue to supply an insufficient amount of oxygen to the rest of the body. This can lead to life-threatening complications, including heart failure, brain hemorrhages, seizures, kidney failure, multiple organ damage, and even death.

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 PPHN among children exposed to SSRI antidepressants like Prozac during pregnancy. This FDA warning was based on the results of a New England Journal of Medicine study, in which researchers found an alarming six-times increased risk of PPHN among children whose mothers took an SSRI like Prozac after the twentieth week of pregnancy. In 1996, the British Medical Journal published a study in which researchers found an increased risk of minor birth defects such as anal atresia, limb defects, heart defects, and craniosynostosis in children born to women who took the SSRI antidepressant Prozac while pregnant. According to researchers from the University of California, three or more minor abnormalities were present in 15.5% of children whose mothers took Prozac while pregnant, more than double the rate of birth defects among the control group, which was only 6.5%.

Prozac Use in 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. It is never advised to suddenly stop taking a prescription medication, 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 way to treat your medical condition.

Prozac Attorneys for Side Effects

PPHN is an extremely dangerous potential Prozac birth defect that can lead to death for affected newborns, even with treatment. If you or a loved one has suffered from a side effect or a birth defect like PPHN, and you believe Prozac to be the cause, contact a Prozac attorney to discuss your options for legal recourse. You may have grounds to file a Prozac lawsuit against Eli Lilly 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 responsible for the resulting consequences. Drug companies like Eli Lilly are expected to produce safe medications, and should be held accountable for any adverse side effects sustained by consumers of their products. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. With the help of a qualified Prozac lawyer, victims of potential Prozac side effects can protect their rights and collect the compensation they deserve.

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