Wellbutrin and PPHN Side Effects

Life-threatening side effects like PPHN, or persistent pulmonary hypertenion of the newborn, may lead to birth defect lawsuits being filed by Wellbutrin patients. If you have been affected by the antidepressant drug, contact a Wellbutrin attorney for help.

Researchers have warned consumers about the potential for use of the antidepressant Wellbutrin in pregnancy to cause serious side effects, particularly the development of birth defects like PPHN in children. Wellbutrin (bupropion) is an atypical antidepressant, commonly prescribed to patients struggling with major depressive disorder or seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression occurring mostly in the winter and fall. Wellbutrin was approved by the FDA in 1985 and is currently manufactured by drug maker GlaxoSmithKline. Wellbutrin functions by inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for affecting mood. Since Wellbutrin was introduced to the U.S. market, it has become one of the most frequently prescribed antidepressant drugs available. Unfortunately, recent studies have raised serious concerns about the safety of the medication, especially in treating pregnant women. If you took Wellbutrin in pregnancy and your child was born with a life-threatening side effect like PPHN, contact a Wellbutrin attorney for legal help.

PPHN Symptoms

Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) is a serious heart and lung defect in which a newborn's circulation continues to bypass the lungs after birth, depriving the rest of the body of the oxygen it needs to survive. When a child is in the womb, the lungs aren't needed in the exchange of oxygen, since the placenta provides the baby with the oxygen it needs through the umbilical cord. Once the child is born however, the body adapts to breathing outside the womb and the lungs become involved in the circulatory process. Unfortunately, in children born with PPHN, the body fails to make this change, and the circulation continues to bypass the lungs. Common symptoms of PPHN include:
  • Respiratory distress
  • Rapid breathing
  • Cyanosis
  • Rapid heart rate

PPHN Treatment and Prognosis

Although children born with PPHN can breathe, oxygen in the breathed air cannot reach the bloodstream to be distributed to the rest of the body. The main goal of PPHN treatment is to maximize the amount of oxygen being distributed to the child's lungs. Common methods of PPHN treatment include administering 100% supplemental oxygen, administering nitric acid to improve blood flow, high-frequency oscillatory ventilation, and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation if the child is suffering from severe heart and lung failure. Unfortunately, some children born with PPHN will struggle with major complications of this birth defect, including kidney failure, brain hemorrhages, shock, seizures, heart failure, major organ failure and death.

Wellbutrin Side Effect Studies and FDA Warnings

In 2006, the FDA issued a public health advisory warning consumers and healthcare professionals about the increased risk of the birth defect PPHN among children exposed to certain antidepressant drugs in utero. This FDA warning was based on the results of a New England Journal of Medicine study published earlier that year, in which researchers found a six-fold increased risk of PPHN in children whose mothers took certain antidepressants after the twentieth week of pregnancy. According to the report, up to twelve out of 1,000 exposed children developed PPHN, compared to the expected rate among the general population, which is one to two infants out of 1,000.

Wellbutrin Use in Pregnancy

Wellbutrin has been classified by the FDA as a pregnancy category C medication, which means it may cause serious harm to a fetus if taken during pregnancy. If you are currently taking Wellbutrin and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your physician to discuss your treatment options. It is never advised to suddenly stop taking a prescription drug 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 alternative to Wellbutrin for treating your condition.

Wellbutrin Attorneys for Side Effects

Research indicates that about 20% of children born with PPHN die, and approximately one-fifth of surviving infants suffer from life-long physical or developmental complications associated with the birth defect. If you or a loved one has experienced a side effect like PPHN and you believe Wellbutrin to be the cause, contact an experienced Wellbutrin attorney to discuss your options for legal recourse. You may have grounds to file a Wellbutrin lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline 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 GlaxoSmithKline are expected to produce safe and effective medications, and should be held accountable for any adverse side effects sustained by consumers of their products. With the help of a qualified Wellbutrin lawyer, victims of potential Wellbutrin side effects can protect their rights and collect the compensation they deserve.

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