If you took an SSRI antidepressant while pregnant, and your child suffers from a birth defect, the medication could be to blame. Parker Waichman LLP is investigating potential lawsuits on behalf of families whose children suffered a birth defect that may be associated with SSRI antidepressants, including persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), ventricular outflow defects, hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), clubfoot, septal defects, cleft lip and cleft palate, and limb defects. Several studies, such as a Danish study published in 2005 which found that infants exposed to SSRIs during the first trimester of pregnancy had a 60% higher probability of developing heart birth defects. Other studies have indicated that children exposed to SSRIs may be more likely to suffer congenital abnormalities. In 2006, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) asked the manufacturers of several SSRI antidepressants to add information to their labels describing the potential risk of PPHN after a study in the New England Journal of Medicine found a six-fold increased risk of the disorder among infants born to mothers who took an antidepressant in the last trimester of pregnancy.Recently, the public has become aware that taking some popular antidepressants while pregnant have been linked to an increased risk of birth defects. An article published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology had found that bupropion (brand name: Wellbutrin) was associated with an increased risk of cardiac birth defects.
If you have taken Lexapro, and have given birth to a child with a birth defect the defective drug may be to blame. Below is a list of potential birth defects that may be linked to the use of Lexapro:
- Congenital heart lesions & anomalies
- Down’s syndrome
- Undescended testes in males
- Spina bifida
- Clubfoot (one or both feet turn downward and inward)
- Septal defects; Cleft lip and/or cleft palate
Lexapro Usage increases Suicide, Suicidal Thoughts Risk
On December 13, 2006, the FDA announced antidepressants prescribed to young adults are risky. The agency proposed expanding the labels of all antidepressants to include an expanded warning of suicidal thoughts in patients ranging from 18-24 years of age. The newly presented change would expand a warning now on the labels that pertain only to children and adolescents treated with antidepressant drugs. The new label changes would also contain a suggestion that patients of all ages be carefully monitored, particularly when starting antidepressant treatment.
The FDA recently completed a bulk evaluation of 372 studies involving approximately 100,000 patients and 11 antidepressants, including Lexapro, Zoloft, Prozac and Paxil. When the results are analyzed by age, it becomes clear there is an elevated risk for suicidal thoughts and behavior amongst adults ranging from 18 to 25 years in age that approaches that seen in children, the FDA said in documents released before their scheduled December 13, 2006 meeting of its psychopharmacologic drugs advisory committee.
In May 2006, GlaxoSmithKline and the FDA cautioned Paxil may raise the risk of suicidal behavior in young adults too and changed the drug’s label to reflect that risk. In the United States, use of antidepressants for patients under 18 years has not been approved by FDA, with the exception of Prozac. This means that both the healthcare professional who prescribes or dispenses these drugs for children and adolescents and the pharmaceutical company that promotes this off-label (unapproved) use knowingly take a risk with the patient’s safety. Antidepressants are widely suspected of contributing to suicidal and/or violent behaviors, especially in children. This point of view has recently been adopted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), somewhat more slowly than its British counterpart, the Medicines Control Agency.
Newer anti-depressants such as Lexapro, prescribed to treat major depression is known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have come under recent scrutiny. In March, the Food and Drug Administration asked the makers of SSRIs to include warnings that children and adults might become more depressed or suicidal while taking these drugs, and that close supervision, particularly at the start of treatment, is required.
Forest Pharmaceutical, Lexapro manufacturer, continues to downplay the drug’s dangers.
Lexapro side effects include: Danger of Birth Defects (Pregnant Females), Passing of Drug to Nursing Babies, Insomnia, Diarrhea, Dry Mouth, Somnolence (sleepiness or drowsiness), Dizziness, Increased Sweating, Constipation, Fatigue, Indigestion, Ejaculation Disorder (male), Decreased Libido (decreased sex drive) (both male and female), Impotence (male), Influenza-Like Symptoms (flu-like symptoms), Appetite Decreased, Rhinitis (runny nose), Sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses), Possible Impairment of Fertility (inability to get pregnant), Danger to Patients With History of Mania, Danger to Patients with History of Seizures, Danger to Patients with Suicidal Tendencies (note: Drugs such as Lexapro have been present in numerous suicide cases, although drug companies have denied the drugs as causes). Additional side effects include: Interference with operation of machinery including automobiles, Impairment of Judgment, Priapism (males) (Persistent, usually painful erection of the penis, especially as a consequence of disease and not related to sexual arousal).
In addition to the aforementioned side effects associated with antidepressants, a new study has linked these drugs to an increased risk of death amongst patients with coronary artery disease. This study, which was conducted at Duke University, analyzed the survival rate of heart disease patients using antidepressants compared with those not using these drugs.
During an average of three years of follow-up, 21.4% of the patients taking antidepressants died compared with 12.5% of those not on antidepressants. After adjusting for demographic factors, cardiac risk factors, scores on the Beck Depression Inventory test, and the presence of other illness, antidepressant use was an independent risk factor for mortality, increasing the risk by 62%.
Researchers do not fully understand why antidepressants increase the risk of mortality in these patients. However their findings are statistically significant and show that these drugs do increase the risk of death in heart disease patients. Current and former heart disease patients should weigh the risks and benefits of antidepressants before using these medications.
Legal Help For Victims Affected By Lexapro
If you or a loved one took Lexapro and other SSRI antidepressants and suffered any of the side effects mentioned here, please fill out the form at the right for a free case evaluation by a qualified defective drug attorney at Parker Waichman LLP or call us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).