SSRI Birth Defect Lawsuit Information

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Another medical study details pregnancy risks with popular anti-depressants.

Resource4thePeople is alerting women who are considering becoming pregnant or are already pregnant of another medical research study documenting dangerous side effects from the use of certain anti-depressants.

The medications involved are a newer class of anti-depressants known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The birth defect risks involved with using these drugs were published in the Oct. 31 online edition of the medical journal Human Reproduction.

These anti-depressants include many well-known medications such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil and Celexa. The drugs’ manufacturers have also been named as defendants in a growing number of SSRI lawsuits in which women claim they gave birth to infants suffering from birth defects because of their SSRI use during pregnancies.

Many of these SSRI lawsuits have been consolidated into what is called a multi-district litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, (MDL 2342) where a federal judge is overseeing pre-trial legal proceedings.

Resource4thePeople is providing referrals to SSRI lawyers offering free consultations for families who have children suffering birth defects because women used these anti-depressants during their pregnancies.

Among the birth defects linked to SSRI use in these lawsuits are the life-threatening condition known as persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, anencephaly, cleft lips and cleft palates.

As with most legal cases, there may be legal deadlines for filing such a lawsuit so it is recommended that anyone affected act as soon as possible to preserve all legal options.

As reported in HealthDay News, the new study shows that women who take these SSRIs during pregnancy may be risking the health of their developing fetus, and the risk may outweigh any benefit to the mother:*

"According to new research, use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) -- which include Celexa, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft -- while pregnant can increase the risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and neurobehavioral problems such as autism later in life.

'There is clear and concerning evidence of risk when pregnant women use these medications,' said Dr. Adam Urato, senior author of a study appearing in the Oct. 31 online edition of Human Reproduction.

On the other hand, he said, there is no clear evidence that SSRI antidepressants actually benefit the mother in terms of alleviating mild-to-moderate depression."

The researchers noted in their findings that antidepressants are the most widely prescribed medications among adults between 18 to 44 and that as many as 13 percent of pregnant women take anti-depressants to treat their depression.

HealthDay reported that researchers found that "some studies suggest that SSRIs may actually undermine women's efforts to get pregnant" and "for those who do get pregnant, the drugs may increase the risk for miscarriage as well as congenital problems in their children. The most striking association was for use of Paxil (paroxetine) during pregnancy and the risk for congenital heart defects."

Despite the dangers, medical experts caution against women who are taking statins during pregnancy from suddenly stopping the medication and provided more details about the concerns researchers have about statins.

A contributor to the web site Giving Birth with Confidence, asked the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Alice Domar, what advice she would offer a pregnant woman who is currently on one of the SSRI medications listed in the study to do, and Domar e-mailed her this response:**

“I would never recommend the sudden discontinuation of an SSRI during pregnancy. There are significant side effects associated with the abrupt cessation of antidepressants and we don’t know the impact on the developing fetus. The three main points we were trying to make with the paper were: 1) there are risks associated with taking SSRIs during pregnancy, 2) there are no clear benefits, and 3) each patient needs to have a discussion with her physician about her individual risk/benefit ratio.

There is a huge difference between a woman who is suicidal, who in all likelihood should remain on medication, versus women with mild or moderate symptoms who would benefit from a different approach, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, or physical exercise, both of which are very effective in the treatment of depressive symptoms.” –Alice Domar, MD

Here are a few of the summaries taken from the study:***

What is known already:

SSRI use is associated with possible reduced infertility treatment efficacy as well as higher rates of pregnancy loss, preterm birth, pregnancy complications, neonatal issues and long-term neurobehavioral abnormalities in offspring.

Main results and the role of chance:

Antidepressant use during pregnancy is associated with increased risks of miscarriage, birth defects, preterm birth, newborn behavioral syndrome, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn and possible longer term neurobehavioral effects. There is no evidence of improved pregnancy outcomes with antidepressant use.

There is some evidence that psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy as well as physical exercise, is associated with significant decreases in depressive symptoms in the general population; research indicates that some forms of counseling are effective in treating depressive symptoms in infertile women.



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W.J. Callahan
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