Did you take a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant during pregnancy and give birth to a child who suffered from persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN)? Some recent research has found an association between SSRI antidepressants and PPHN, and the drugs are being reviewed by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for a possible link to this birth defect. SSRI antidepressants that might be connected to PPHN include:
- Celexa (citalopram)
- Lexapro (escitalopram)
- Luvox, Luvox CR (fluvoxamine)
- Paxil, Paxil CR, Pexeva (paroxetine)
- Prozac, Sarafem, Symbyax (fluoxetine)
- Viibryd (vilazodone)
- Zoloft (sertraline)
PPHN is a serious birth defect affecting the lungs in which the arteries are severely restricted, causing blood pressure in the pulmonary artery of the heart to rise to excessive levels. Lawyers at Parker Waichman LLP who specialize in defective drug litigation are investigating potential lawsuits on behalf of victims of SSRI birth defects, including PPHN. We are currently offering free lawsuit consultations to anyone who believes their child was born with PPHN because of an SSRI antidepressant. To learn how we may be able to help you obtain compensation for your child’s injury, please contact us today.
SSRI Antidepressants and PPHN
SSRI antidepressants work by increasing the body’s amount of serotonin, which is a mood regulator leading to feelings of well-being. SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants in the U.S. However, according to the FDA, there have been no adequate and well-controlled studies of SSRIs in pregnant women.
In 2006, the FDA announced it was reviewing a possible link between SSRI antidepressants and PPHN after a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found a six-fold increase in PPHN among newborn babies whose mothers were exposed to an SSRI after 20 weeks of gestation. At the time, the “Usage in Pregnancy: Nonteratogenic Effects” section of the labeling for SSRI antidepressants was updated with the following warning: “Infants exposed to SSRIs in late pregnancy may have an increased risk for persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN).”
In December 2011, the FDA issued an update on its SSRI – PPHN safety review. According to the agency, one additional study, published in 2008 in the journal Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Safety, had found a statistically significant association between SSRI use and PPHN, with the majority of exposures occurring during the first trimester of pregnancy. However, the agency also said its review of the medical literature had revealed a few studies that did not support the association.
The FDA stated that: “given the conflicting results from different studies, it is premature to reach any conclusion about a possible link between SSRI use in pregnancy and PPHN.” The agency said it would update the SSRI drug labels to reflect the new data and the conflicting results. Finally, the FDA advised clinicians to weigh potential risk for PPHN against the risks associated with untreated pregnancy during depression.
What is PPHN?
PPHN occurs when a newborn baby does not adapt to breathing outside the womb. Newborns with PPHN may require intensive care support including a mechanical ventilator to increase their oxygen level. If severe, PPHN can result in multiple organ damage, including brain damage, and even death.
Symptoms of PPHN include:
- Rapid Breathing
- Rapid Heart Rate
- Difficulty Breathing
- Bluish Skin
- Heart Murmurs
- Low Blood Oxygen Levels
Babies born with PPHN are usually treated in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where pure oxygen will be administered through a tube inserted into the windpipe. Some babies may need the aid of an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine (ECMO), which acts as an artificial heart and lung, while their lungs recover. Even with treatment, children born with PPHN can suffer shock, heart failure, brain hemorrhage, seizures, kidney failure, organ damage and even death. PPHN babies may also face long-term health consequences, including breathing difficulties, seizures, and developmental disorders and hearing loss.
Legal Help for Victims of PPHN From SSRI Antidepressants
If your child was born with PPHN and you think an SSRI antidepressant is to blame, you may have valuable legal rights. For a free evaluation of your case, please fill out our online form, or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) today.