Tegretol and Heart Defect Side Effects

Heart birth defects may result from Tegretol use in pregnancy. If you or a loved one has suffered from a cardiovascular side effect of the anticonvulsant drug, contact a Tegretol attorney to explore your compensation options.

The anticonvulsant Tegretol may no longer be considered safe, especially in treating pregnant women, due to information suggesting the drug may increase an exposed child's risk of being born with severe birth defects, including heart defects. Tegretol has been available in the United States since 1974, and is widely prescribed by physicians for the treatment of epilepsy, neuropathic (nerve) pain, and the manic phase of bipolar disorder. The active ingredient in Tegretol is carbamazepine, and the medication functions by interfering with nerve impulses that cause seizures and pain. Tegretol is currently manufactured by drug company Novartis Pharmaceuticals, and is one of the most popular anticonvulsant drugs on the market. Unfortunately, an emerging body of research has indicated that women who take Tegretol during pregnancy may have a significantly increased risk of giving birth to children with major side effects, including heart defects. If you took Tegretol while pregnant and your child was born with a life-altering side effect, contact a Tegretol attorney, as your child may be entitled to lifetime care.

Heart Defects Described

Congenital heart defects are malformations present at birth which affect the structure of the heart or the blood vessels surrounding the heart. Some heart defects interfere with the heart's rhythm, some obstruct the flow of blood in the heart, and others cause blood to flow through the heart in an irregular pattern. As a result, common heart defect symptoms are shortness of breath, poor growth, heart murmur, respiratory infections, cyanosis (bluish tint to the skin), and poor feeding. Some heart defects are minor and may go undetected throughout the child's life. However, more than half of infants born with a heart defect require medical treatment to repair the malformation.

Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome

Hypoplastic right heart syndrome (HRHS) is a type of heart defect characterized by the underdevelopment of the structures on the right side of the heart, including the valves, chambers and blood vessels. Because the right ventricle's muscle structure is poorly developed, additional problems are encountered as the heart attempts to pump blood to the pulmonary valve for transfer to the lungs. Since oxygen-poor blood cannot pass through the right side of the heart to get to the lungs, it crosses into the left atrium and mixes with oxygenated blood returning from the lungs. Children born with HRHS require immediate medical treatment, as the heart will begin to fail almost immediately after birth.

Atrial Septal Defect

An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a congenital heart defect characterized by a hole in the wall separating the right and left atria of the heart. In children born with this condition, oxygenated blood from the left side of the heart is permitted to mix with oxygen-poor blood from the right side of the heart, causing an increase in pressure in the lungs. Common ASD symptoms include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and respiratory infections. Unfortunately, children with an atrial septal defect have an increased risk of suffering from major complications like stroke, heart failure and pulmonary hypertension.

Tegretol Side Effect Studies

Recent studies have established a potential connection between the use of Tegretol and the development of major birth defects, including heart defects, among children. A small study involving 210 women who took Tegretol during pregnancy was published recently, in which researchers sought to examine the adverse effects of fetal exposure to Tegretol. According to the report, the prevalence of heart defects was 2.9% among children exposed to Tegretol in utero, compared to 0.7% among children whose mothers did not take the anticonvulsant during pregnancy. The potentially harmful nature of anticonvulsant medications like Tegretol has been apparent for several years. As early as 1989, New England Journal of Medicine researchers were examining the teratogenicity of Tegretol, defined as the drug's potential to interfere with fetal development and cause major side effects. According to researchers involved in this study, the teratogenicity of Tegretol was illustrated by the incidence of birth defects present among children exposed to the drug in utero.

Tegretol in Pregnancy

The FDA has classified Tegretol as a pregnancy category D medication, which means there is positive human evidence of the drug's ability to cause serious harm to a fetus when taken during pregnancy. If you are currently taking Tegretol and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your physician to discuss your treatment options. You should never stop taking a prescription drug without medical consent, as this may cause serious harm to you or your child. However, with your doctor's help, you may be able to find a safer alternative to Tegretol for treating your condition.

Tegretol Attorneys for Heart Defect Side Effects

Heart defects are one of the most common types of birth defects and are also the leading cause of birth defect-related death among small children. If you or a loved one has suffered from a heart defect, which you believe to be linked to Tegretol, contact an experienced Tegretol attorney for legal help. You may have grounds to file a Tegretol lawsuit against Novartis Pharmaceuticals in order to seek financial compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Consumers expect their prescription drugs to effectively treat their medical condition without causing them any unnecessary harm. Unfortunately, some medications currently on the market are associated with side effects so serious they may even outweigh the possible benefits of the treatment. Filing an injury lawsuit can be a complicated process; fortunately, Tegretol attorneys are experienced in defective drug litigation. With the help of a qualified Tegretol lawyer, victims of potential Tegretol side effects can feel confident that their case is in good hands.

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