Zoloft and Cleft Palate Side Effects

Cleft palate birth defects may be linked to Zoloft use during pregnancy and attorneys are filing lawsuits across the US.  Contact a Zoloft attorney to discuss your legal options.

Researchers have identified a potential connection between the use of the antidepressant drug Zoloft and the development of significant side effects, including cleft palate birth defects, among children. Zoloft is currently manufactured by the drug company Pfizer, and has been available in the U.S. since 1991. Since its introduction, Zoloft (sertraline) has been approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder, panic attacks, social anxiety disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and severe cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Zoloft belongs to a group of antidepressant drugs called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which function by balancing the level of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Despite the popularity of Zoloft and other antidepressant drugs however, serious concerns have been raised about the safety of these pharmaceutical drugs, especially in treating pregnant women. If you took Zoloft while pregnant and your child was born with a serious birth defect side effect, contact a Zoloft attorney to discuss your legal options.

Cleft Palate Signs and Symptoms

Cleft palate is a congenital birth defect characterized by the failure of a child's palate to form properly during fetal development. Under normal circumstances, a child's palate, or roof of the mouth, is fully formed between the sixth and eleventh week of pregnancy. If there isn't enough tissue in the palate area as the structure is forming however, the palate may not completely fuse together, resulting a cleft palate. A cleft palate can affect one or both sides of the mouth and can vary in degree from a small opening in the back of the mouth to a nearly complete separation of the roof of the mouth.

Cleft Palate Treatment and Complications

Children born with a cleft palate require surgery to repair the malformation and restore the appearance and function of the palate. Without treatment, affected infants may suffer from a number of complications, including recurring ear infections, hearing loss, feeding difficulties, speech and language delay, and dental problems like missing or misaligned teeth. Surgery is typically performed during the first year of the child's life, so that proper speech and language development can follow. Unfortunately, even with treatment, some children may require long-term orthodontic and dental care in order to monitor the child's development and prevent further complications.

FDA Warnings and Zoloft Side Effect Studies

The FDA issued a public health advisory in 2006 warning the public about the increased risk of the side effect PPHN in children exposed to SSRI antidepressants like Zoloft in pregnancy. PPHN is a severe heart and lung defect in which a child's circulation continues to bypass the lungs after birth, depriving the rest of the body of oxygen. This FDA warning came shortly after the publication of a 2006 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, in which researchers found an alarming six-times increased risk of PPHN in children whose mothers took an SSRI drug after the twentieth week of pregnancy. The following year, the NEJM published two additional SSRI side effect studies, the first of which suggested that children exposed to SSRIs like Zoloft in early pregnancy were nearly twice as likely to develop birth defects like club foot, limb defects and anal atresia. Researchers also found a potential link between SSRIs and cleft palate, cleft lip and neural tube birth defects.

Zoloft Use in Pregnancy

The FDA has classified Zoloft as a pregnancy category C medication, which means it has the potential to cause significant fetal harm when taken during pregnancy. If you are currently taking Zoloft and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your physician to discuss your treatment options. You should never suddenly stop taking a prescription drug, 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 Zoloft for treating your condition or disorder.

Zoloft Attorneys for Cleft Palate Side Effects

Consumers expect their prescription medications to effectively treat their condition without causing them any unnecessary harm. Unfortunately, recent studies have indicated that the extremely popular SSRI antidepressant drugs, including Zoloft, may be linked to the development of severe birth defects among exposed children. If you or a loved one has suffered from a potential Zoloft side effect, consult an experienced Zoloft attorney for legal guidance. You may have grounds to file a Zoloft lawsuit against Pfizer, in order to seek financial compensation for your injuries, the medical expenses resulting from injury treatment, and the pain and suffering endured by you and your family. Drug companies are responsible for the safety of their medications, and should be held liable for any adverse side effects sustained by consumers of their products. With the help of a qualified Zoloft lawyer, victims of alleged Zoloft side effects can collect the compensation they deserve and protect themselves and their family from further harm.

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