Zoloft and Heart Defect Side Effects

Heart defects may be a potential Zoloft birth defect when it is used during pregnancy.  If your family has been affected by Zoloft side effects, contact a Zoloft attorney to discuss your Zoloft lawsuit options.

FDA warnings and Zoloft side effect studies have suggested that exposure to SSRI antidepressants like Zoloft in pregnancy may lead to the development of major side effects among children, including congenital heart defects. Zoloft (sertraline) is currently manufactured by pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, and has been available in the U.S. since 1991. Since its inception, Zoloft has been FDA-approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, social anxiety 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 increasing the level of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Despite the potential pregnancy risks associated with Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants, research indicates that more than 80,000 pregnant women are prescribed SSRIs like Zoloft in the U.S. in any given year. If you took Zoloft while pregnant and your child was born with a heart defect or another side effect, contact a Zoloft 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, obstruct the flow of blood in the heart, or cause blood to flow through the heart in an abnormal pattern. Heart defects are the most common type of birth defect and are also the leading cause of birth defect-related death among infants. While some heart defects are minor and may go undetected throughout the affected individual's life, more than half of children born with a heart defect require medical treatment, often including surgery. Two of the most common types of heart defects are atrial septal defects and ventricular septal defects.

Atrial Septal Defects

An atrial septal defect (ASD) is characterized by a hole in the wall separating the right and left atria of the heart. Atrial septal defects allow oxygenated blood from the left atrium to mix with oxygen-poor blood in the right atrium, causing an increase in pressure in the lungs. Excessive pressure in the lungs can lead to devastating side effects, including heart failure. Common symptoms of atrial septal defects include respiratory infections, shortness of breath, fatigue, difficulty breathing, and sometimes heart palpitations.

Ventricular Septal Defects

Ventricular septal defects are similar to ASDs, except the hole is located in the wall that separates the heart's right and left ventricles. Some ventricular septal defects are minor and may even repair themselves over time without requiring treatment. Larger malformations however, may allow an excessive amount of blood to flow to the lungs, which can cause an increase in pressure and potentially result in heart failure. Common symptoms of VSDs include shortness of breath, respiratory infections, rapid breathing, failure to gain weight and sweating while feeding.

FDA Warning and Zoloft Side Effect Studies

The FDA issued a public health advisory in 2006, warning the public about the increased risk of PPHN in children exposed to SSRI antidepressants like Zoloft in utero. PPHN is a severe heart and lung malformation in which a child's circulation continues to bypass the lungs after birth, depriving the rest of the body of the oxygen it needs to survive. This FDA warning was directly influenced by a New England Journal of Medicine study in which researchers found an alarming six-fold increased risk of PPHN in newborns whose mothers took Zoloft or another SSRI antidepressant in the third trimester of pregnancy. In 2010, the American Journal of Nursing published a study in which researchers found a potential link between SSRIs like Zoloft and an increased risk of heart defects, particularly ASDs and VSDs. According to the report, the prevalence of septal heart defects among infants exposed to an SSRI during pregnancy was 0.9%, nearly twice that of the general population, which is 0.5%.

Zoloft Use During Pregnancy

The FDA has classified Zoloft 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 Zoloft and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, contact your healthcare provider to discuss your options. You should never stop taking a prescription medication 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 Zoloft for treating your condition.

Zoloft Attorneys for Heart Defect Side Effects

Heart defects like atrial and ventricular septal defects are extremely severe and can have fatal complications for affected children. If you or a loved one has suffered from a heart defect side effect which you believe to be linked to Zoloft, contact a Zoloft attorney to discuss your legal options. You may have grounds to file a Zoloft lawsuit against Pfizer, 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. Drug companies like Pfizer 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. Only by hiring an experienced Zoloft lawyer to represent their case can victims of potential Zoloft side effects protect their rights and collect the compensation they deserve.

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