Zoloft and PPHN Side Effects

PPHN birth defects and Zoloft side effects in pregnancy may be linked and Zoloft attorneys are filing lawsuits.  Contact a lawyer to discuss your Zoloft lawsuit options if your family has been affected by pulmonary hypertension.

According to researchers, the antidepressant Zoloft may be associated with a variety of severe side effects, particularly birth defects in children exposed to the drug during pregnancy. Zoloft, manufactured by Pfizer, is one of a group of antidepressant drugs called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These medications work by restoring the level of serotonin in the brain, thereby relieving depression and improving certain mood disorders. Zoloft (sertraline) was approved by the FDA in 1991 and has since been indicated for the treatment of major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and severe cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder. As of 2007, Zoloft was the most commonly prescribed antidepressant drug in the U.S., with more than 29 million prescriptions filled. Unfortunately, recent studies have raised concerns about the safety of Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants, especially in treating pregnant women. If you took Zoloft while pregnant and your child was born with a serious birth defect or side effect, contact a Zoloft attorney immediately.

PPHN Symptoms

PPHN, or persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn is a life-threatening heart and lung malformation, in which a child's circulation continues to bypass the lungs after birth. When a child is in the womb, the lungs aren't yet required in the exchange of oxygen, because the placenta provides the baby with oxygen through the umbilical cord. When the child is born, the body automatically adjusts to breathing outside the womb, and the lungs inflate. In children with PPHN, however, the baby's body fails to make this change, and the circulation continues to bypass the lungs. Common symptoms of PPHN include:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Respiratory distress
  • Cyanosis (bluish tint to the skin)

PPHN Treatment and Prognosis

Although a baby with PPHN can breathe, oxygen from the breathed air will not reach the bloodstream to be delivered to the rest of the body. The main goal of PPHN treatment is to deliver the maximum amount of oxygen possible to the rest of the baby's body. Without a sufficient supply of oxygen, the child's vital organs and tissues may become damaged and begin to die. Common PPHN treatments include:

  • 100% oxygen administration
  • High-frequency oscillatory ventilation
  • Nitric acid administration (to improve blood flow)
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (in cases of severe heart and lung failure)

Although some children with PPHN recover with treatment, some babies will continue to supply an inadequate amount of oxygen to the body. This can result in devastating side effects, including brain hemorrhages, kidney failure, seizures, heart failure, multiple organ damage and death.

FDA Warnings and Zoloft Side Effect Studies

The New England Journal of Medicine published a significant study in 2006, in which researchers found an alarming six-fold increased risk of PPHN among infants exposed to SSRI antidepressants like Zoloft after the twentieth week of pregnancy. According to researchers, up to twelve out of 1,000 infants involved in the study developed PPHN, compared to the expected rate among the general population, which is one to two infants out of 1,000. After reviewing the results of this study, the FDA issued a public health advisory warning patients and healthcare providers about the increased risk of PPHN in children whose mothers take SSRIs like Zoloft while pregnant.

Zoloft Use and Pregnancy

The FDA has classified Zoloft as a pregnancy category C medication, which means it has the potential to cause severe fetal harm when taken during pregnancy. If you are currently taking Zoloft and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your healthcare provider to discuss alternative treatment options. It is never advised to discontinue use of 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 way to treat your condition.

Zoloft Attorneys for PPHN Side Effects

Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) is one of the most serious birth defects potentially associated with the antidepressant Zoloft. If you or a loved one has suffered from a PPHN side effect and you believe Zoloft to be the cause, contact a Zoloft attorney as soon as possible. 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. Pharmaceutical 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. With the help of a qualified Zoloft lawyer, victims of Zoloft side effects can protect their rights and collect the compensation they deserve.

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