Wellbutrin and Neural Tube Defect Side Effects

Side effects like neural tube birth defects may lead to injury lawsuits being filed by Wellbutrin patients. If you have been affected by the antidepressant drug, contact a Wellbutrin attorney for legal guidance.

In light of Wellbutrin side effect information, experts have indicated that the antidepressant may be associated with the development of severe neural tube birth defects among children exposed to the drug in pregnancy. Wellbutrin is an atypical antidepressant manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, and is commonly prescribed to patients struggling with major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression occurring mostly in the winter and fall. Wellbutrin (bupropion) was approved by the FDA in 1985 and functions by inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for controlling mood. Since it garnered FDA approval, Wellbutrin has become one of the most popular antidepressant drugs on the market. Unfortunately, recent studies have suggested that the drug may be linked to serious side effects like neural tube birth defects when taken in pregnancy. If you took Wellbutrin while pregnant and your child was born with a neural tube birth defect, contact an experienced Wellbutrin attorney, as your child may be entitled to lifetime care.

Neural Tube Defects Described

Neural tube birth defects occur when a child's neural tube fails to close completely during fetal development, resulting in a serious congenital malformation. The neural tube is the precursor to a child's central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord, and is typically fully formed during early pregnancy. Unfortunately, if the neural tube fails to fuse together properly in utero, a neural tube defect may occur. Neural tube birth defects are especially devastating, because they are typically accompanied by damage to the spinal cord and brain, potentially resulting in difficulties with learning, movement and development.

Spina Bifida

One of the most common types of neural tube defects is spina bifida, which occurs when the vertebrae overlying the spinal cord fail to fuse together completely, leaving an opening through which the spinal cord may actually protrude. Instances of spina bifida can vary in severity from spina bifida occulta to spina bifida cystica, and are typically accompanied by symptoms like paralysis, lack of feeling in the legs, feet or arms, seizures, intellectual disability and allergies. In the most serious cases of spina bifida, spinal cord tissue may actually protrude from the child's back, covered only by a thin layer of tissue.


Anencephaly is one of the most devastating neural tube defects, characterized by the absence of critical parts of the brain and skull. Anencephaly occurs when the head end of the neural tube fails to close completely, causing the child to be born without a cerebrum, which is responsible for senses, movement and thinking, or a forebrain, which is the largest part of the brain. There is no cure for anencephaly, and most children with this birth defect survive only a few hours or days after birth. Although some children born with anencephaly will display reflex actions like response to sound or touch, the lack of a functioning cerebrum makes it impossible for them to ever regain consciousness.

Wellbutrin Side Effect Studies

In 1997, GlaxoSmithKline developed the Bupropion Pregnancy Registry to determine the effects of fetal exposure to the antidepressant Wellbutrin. By 2008, GSK found that 3.6% of the small group of children involved in the study were born with severe birth defects. In 2007, the New England Journal of Medicine published two separate studies in an attempt to observe the adverse effects of taking certain antidepressant drugs in pregnancy. According to the first study, women who took certain antidepressants in early pregnancy were nearly twice as likely to give birth to children with birth defects like anal atresia, limb defects and club foot. Researchers also found a potential link between certain antidepressants and neural tube birth defects, cleft lip and cleft palate. In the second study, researchers indicated that children born to women who took certain antidepressants while pregnant were more than twice as likely to develop catastrophic birth defects like anencephaly, omphalocele and craniosynostosis.

Wellbutrin Use in Pregnancy

The FDA has classified Wellbutrin as a pregnancy category C medication, which means it has the potential to cause serious fetal harm if taken during pregnancy. If you are currently taking Wellbutrin and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your healthcare provider to discuss your treatment options. It is never advised to stop taking a prescription drug without medical consent, as this may cause additional harm to you or your child. However, with your doctor's help, you may be able to find an alternative to Wellbutrin for treating your condition.

Wellbutrin Attorneys for Side Effects

The side effects potentially linked to the antidepressant Wellbutrin can lead to life-altering side effects among affected children, or even death. If you or a loved one has suffered from a serious birth defect, which you believe to be associated with Wellbutrin, contact a Wellbutrin 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 Wellbutrin lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline. Drug companies like Glaxo 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, some pharmaceutical companies intentionally conceal the more serious side effects of their drugs, in an attempt to avoid negative consequences, such as a drug recall. By hiring an experienced Wellbutrin lawyer to represent your case, you can protect your rights and collect the compensation you deserve.

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