Health Expert Warns That Use of SSRIs During Pregnancy May Increase Risk of Fetal Heart Defects

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In light of mounting litigation regarding SSRI side effects, Balkin & Eisbrouch, LLC reports on U.K. Professor Stephen Pilling’s concerns about fetal exposure to antidepressants.

In a recent Daily Mail online article published on June 24, 2013, Dr. Stephen Pilling - an expert at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) - warns of SSRI antidepressant use during pregnancy, saying the risks outweigh the benefits in certain cases. One in every six women of child-bearing age takes a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI, to treat symptoms of depression or anxiety, according to the feature. Pilling cautions that antidepressant exposure early in the pregnancy could double the risk of heart defects in newborns. 'They aren't worth taking for women with mild to moderate depression,” said Pilling.

In the U.S., a Public Health Advisory released by the FDA in July of 2006 announced the results of a single study supporting the theory that Zoloft may increase the risk of neonatal PPHN. However, the agency updated its stance in a later advisory issued on December 14, 2011. According to that announcement, the agency takes the position that it is "premature to reach any conclusion about a possible link between SSRI use in pregnancy and PPHN."

“While clinical studies on antidepressants and pregnancy have yielded mixed results, lawsuits alleging SSRI birth defects such as PPHN continue to accumulate in the U.S.,” said Charles Balkin, founding partner of Balkin & Eisbrouch, LLC, a leading products liability firm that represents clients who have been injured by dangerous drugs and defective medical devices.

Co-founding partner David Eisbrouch urges mothers who took SSRIs while pregnant and suspect their child’s birth defect was caused by an SSRI medication to contact Balkin and Eisbrouch about legal options and possible monetary damages that may be available to them under the law. "As more information about antidepressants and pregnancy becomes available, our firm receives more inquiries about the legal implications,”said Eisbrouch. Click here to learn more about antidepressant lawsuits.

In the U.K., prescription guidelines only caution about hazards of Paxil (paroxetine) during early pregnancy, but Professor Pilling stated that these warnings may be updated. “We make a quite a lot of effort really to discourage women from smoking or drinking even small amounts of alcohol in pregnancy, and yet we're perhaps not yet saying the same about antidepressant medication, which is going to be carrying similar - if not greater – risks,” concluded Pilling in the Daily Mail article.

Meanwhile, allegations of Zoloft birth defects are the subject of at least 250 lawsuits that have been centralized before Judge Cynthia M. Rufe in Pennsylvania federal court. The multidistrict litigation (In Re: Zoloft (Sertraline Hydrochloride) Products Liability Litigation - MDL 2342, United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania) was established in April 2012, and according to court documents, will be ready for bellwether trials in October 2014.

Among the cases being investigated by Balkin and Eisbrouch are that women who took Zoloft (sertraline) and other SSRIs during pregnancy were purportedly put at increased risk of having a baby with birth defects including PPHN, club foot, spina bifida and other heart and cranial defects.

About Balkin & Eisbrouch

Headquartered in New York, the law firm of Balkin & Eisbrouch has been handling all aspects of serious personal injury and pharmaceutical cases for over four decades. As a leading law firm in dangerous drug litigation, Balkin & Eisbrouch offers comprehensive information about SSRI side effects and legal remedies for victims on their website. Their nationwide affiliates are presently accepting new cases involving birth defects and SSRIs, and offer no-obligation case evaluations.

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Balkin & Eisbrouch, LLC
126 East 56th Street
New York, NY 10026
Tel: 888-674-3931

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Andrew Orlander
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