SSRI antidepressants like Celexa were originally developed as a first-line of defense against depression, although they have since been approved for additional indications and are even sometimes used for off-label purposes as well, when physicians deem the treatment appropriate. Celexa, for example, was approved by the FDA in 1998 for the treatment of major depressive disorder only, but is also commonly prescribed to individuals suffering from conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, anxiety, and certain eating disorders. The active ingredient in Celexa is citalopram, and the drug works by increasing or restoring the level of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter responsible for affecting mood.
Celexa is currently manufactured by Forest Laboratories, and has become widely-prescribed by healthcare providers across the country. However, the alarming results of a number of recent SSRI birth defect studies may have a negative impact on the reception of Celexa and other SSRI antidepressants in the future. According to this body of research, women who take SSRIs like Celexa during pregnancy may significantly increase their risk of giving birth to infants with one or more major birth defects, including anal atresia.
Anal atresia, also commonly referred to as imperforate anus, is caused by the abnormal development of the fetus, and occurs when the opening to the anus is missing or blocked. In infants with this condition, the rectum may end in a blind pouch which does not connect to the colon, or it may have openings to the urethra, bladder, the vagina in girls, or the base of the penis in boys. The anus, which is the opening to the rectum through which stools leave the body, may be narrowed or absent altogether. Common symptoms of anal atresia include:
In order to treat this condition, surgical reconstruction of the anus is necessary. In addition, if the rectum connects with other organs, these organs may need to be surgically repaired as well. With treatment, infants with anal atresia typically make a full recovery. However, some may never recover bowel control and others may suffer from complications like constipation and intestinal blockage. Unfortunately, children with anal atresia are often born with additional birth defects, commonly those affecting the spine, genitals and urinary tract. Treatment for children with multiple malformations such as these may be more complicated and the outcome less positive.
In 2006, the New England Journal of Medicine published a revealing study in which researchers identified a potential connection between the use of SSRI antidepressants by pregnant women and the development of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), a life-threatening heart and lung condition in which a baby’s circulation continues to bypass the lungs after birth. According to researchers, infants exposed to an SSRI like Celexa in utero were an alarming six times more likely to be born with PPHN compared to unexposed infants. Shortly after this study was published, the FDA issued a public health advisory warning patients and healthcare providers about the possible link between SSRIs like Celexa and PPHN. The FDA also required all SSRI sponsors to update the warning labels on their drugs to include potential pregnancy precautions, namely PPHN.
Two other SSRI birth defect studies were published in the American Journal of Nursing and the journal Pediatrics in recent years. The former study indicated that infants whose mothers took an SSRI like Celexa while pregnant were nearly twice as likely to develop a dangerous septal heart defect than infants whose mothers didn’t take the drugs during pregnancy. The latter study suggested that infants exposed to an SSRI in utero had an increased risk of struggling with unusual sleeping patterns, abnormal heart rhythms, inhibited neurological development, and problems with alertness.
The FDA has labeled Celexa a pregnancy category C medication, which means the drug has the potential to cause serious harm to a human fetus when taken during pregnancy. If you are currently pregnant or planning to become pregnant and you are taking Celexa, consult your physician as soon as possible. You should never suddenly stop taking a prescription medication without medical consent, as this may cause further harm. However, with the aid of your doctor, you may be able to find a safer alternative to Celexa for treating your medical condition.
Unfortunately, many of the birth defects potentially associated with the use of SSRI antidepressants are established during the first trimester of pregnancy, before some women are even aware they are pregnant. Because nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned, all women of childbearing age who take SSRIs like Celexa may be at risk of causing irreversible harm to their unborn child without their knowledge.
While anal atresia can typically be treated with success, the additional birth defects which may accompany the malformation have the potential to cause serious, life-altering complications. If you or a loved one has suffered from a birth defect like anal atresia which you believe to be associated with the use of Celexa, contact a Celexa attorney to discuss your legal options. You may be entitled to reimbursement for your injuries and medical expenses, as well as the pain and suffering endured by you and your family, which you can collect by filing a Celexa lawsuit against Forest Laboratories. Besides seeking financial compensation, defective drug lawsuits also bring public attention to the importance of safe medications and the need for more stringent regulations on the potentially dangerous drugs already on the market.
Drug manufacturing companies like Forest Laboratories are responsible for the safety of their medications, even after they enter the market. Unfortunately, some pharmaceutical companies choose to operate in their own best interest and intentionally withhold the adverse side effects associated with their drugs, disregarding the safety and well-being of the public. This puts consumers at risk of suffering severe injury, illness and even death, which could have been avoided had the drug company taken the appropriate steps to prevent unnecessary harm. The only way for consumers to protect their rights and stand up to big drug companies is to hire a qualified Celexa lawyer to represent their case. Defective drug litigation can be a complex process, but with the help of a knowledgeable Celexa attorney, victims of alleged Celexa birth defects can feel confident that their case is in good hands.