SSRI Antidepressants

SSRI side effect studies have indicated that these medications may be linked to life-altering side effects in patients, namely the development of major birth defects among children exposed to the drugs in pregnancy.

SSRI antidepressants, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are some of the most widely prescribed antidepressant drugs in the United States. These prescription drugs function by blocking the re-absorption of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter responsible for affecting mood. SSRI antidepressants are considered "selective" because they act upon serotonin alone, while other types of antidepressants may block the re-absorption of one or more other neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine or dopamine. By balancing the level of serotonin, SSRIs can effectively relieve depression and improve certain mood disorders. Despite the popularity of SSRI antidepressants in the U.S. and other countries, SSRI side effect studies have indicated that these medications may be linked to life-altering side effects in patients, namely the development of major birth defects among children exposed to the drugs in pregnancy. If you took an SSRI antidepressant while pregnant and your child was born with a serious side effect or birth defect, contact an SSRI antidepressant attorney to discuss your legal options.

Types of SSRI Antidepressants

Although SSRI medications were originally designed as a first line of defense against depression, many SSRIs have been approved for additional purposes, and some are even prescribed off-label to treat certain personality and anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia and panic disorder. There are several different types of SSRI antidepressants and some may be more effective for treating certain patients than others. The most common SSRI antidepressants are:

  • Celexa (citalopram)
  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Paxil (paroxetine)
  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)

SSRI Antidepressants and Possible Side Effects

An emerging body of research has identified SSRI antidepressant use in pregnancy as a possible risk factor for the development of severe birth defects among children. In fact, studies have shown that women who take an SSRI while pregnant may have a significantly increased risk of giving birth to children with one or more birth defects. Among the birth defects potentially associated with SSRI antidepressants are:

  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN)
  • Neural tube defects
  • Heart defects
  • Limb defects
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Anal atresia
  • Omphalocele
  • Cleft lip
  • Cleft palate

In 2005, the FDA issued a public health advisory warning patients and healthcare professionals about the increased risk of major congenital malformations, particularly heart defects, in infants exposed to the SSRI Paxil during the first trimester of pregnancy. In 2006, the FDA issued an additional public health advisory regarding the increased risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) in children whose mothers take an SSRI antidepressant during pregnancy. This FDA warning was based on the results of a New England Journal of Medicine study in which researchers found a shocking six-times increased risk of PPHN in children exposed to an SSRI after the twentieth week of pregnancy. PPHN is a life-threatening heart and lung defect in which a child's circulation continues to bypass the lungs after birth, depriving the body of oxygen.

SSRI Antidepressants During Pregnancy

In order to evaluate the potentially harmful nature of taking certain pharmaceutical drugs during pregnancy, the FDA has developed the pregnancy category system. All of the above-listed SSRI antidepressants have been classified by the FDA as either pregnancy category C drugs, which means they have the potential to cause harm to a fetus when taken during pregnancy, or category D, which means there is positive human evidence of this risk. If you are currently taking an SSRI antidepressant and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your physician to discuss alternative treatment options. You should never suddenly stop taking an SSRI without medical consent, 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 condition.

SSRI Antidepressant Attorneys for Side Effects

The birth defect side effects potentially linked to SSRI antidepressants are severe and can significantly alter an affected child's quality of life. Some of these birth defects may even be fatal. If you or a loved one has suffered from a birth defect or side effect and you believe an SSRI to be the cause, contact an SSRI antidepressant attorney to discuss your options for legal recourse. You may have grounds to file a defective drug lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company responsible for producing the dangerous drug, in order to seek financial compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Drug companies are responsible for the safety of their medications, and should be held accountable for any adverse side effects sustained by consumers of their products. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. In fact, some pharmaceutical companies intentionally conceal the more serious side effects of their medications in an attempt to make their product more appealing to the public. By doing so, drug companies put millions of consumers at risk of suffering serious injury and possibly even death. With the help of an experienced SSRI antidepressant lawyer, victims of SSRI antidepressant side effects can protect their rights and collect the compensation they deserve.

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