Celexa and Birth Defects - Consumer Justice Foundation

Celexa and Birth Defects

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Celexa and Birth Defects

Women who take the SSRI antidepressant Celexa while pregnant may increase their baby’s risk of being born with a serious birth defect.

When it comes to taking a new medication, most patients rely on their doctors to notify them of any possible side effects, especially pregnant women whose decisions affect not only themselves but their unborn child as well. Antidepressant drugs like Celexa are becoming more and more popular in the United States, where depression diagnoses seem to be a dime a dozen. Forest Laboratories’ SSRI antidepressant Celexa (citalopram) entered the U.S. market in 1998 and is commonly prescribed to treat major depressive disorder and a number of other off-label conditions. Unfortunately, researchers have indicated that women who take Celexa and other SSRI antidepressants while pregnant may have an increased risk of giving birth to children with life-threatening birth defects. Doctors get their information about drug side effects from the FDA and from drug companies, which are obligated to make public any potential health risks associated with their medications. Unfortunately, not all pharmaceutical companies follow the rules, and some even intentionally conceal the more serious side effects of their products from consumers. Not only is this practice just plain wrong, but it also puts patients at risk of unknowingly exposing themselves to serious side effects and may increase a child’s risk of being born with devastating birth defects. If you took Celexa while pregnant and your child was born with a serious birth defect, contact a birth defect attorney for legal help.

Birth Defects Possibly Linked to Celexa

“Birth defect” is a scary term and having a child be diagnosed with a birth defect is an experience you wouldn’t wish upon anyone. Unfortunately, birth defects are very common, affecting one in every 33 babies, and are the leading cause of infant mortality in the first year of life. Birth defects occur when something interferes with a baby’s development in the womb, and can affect the way a child’s body looks or functions. In general, birth defects are categorized as metabolic, developmental or structural, and can cause complications in the way a baby learns, moves, develops, hears, sees and grows. Babies exposed to the antidepressant Celexa may have an increased risk of being born with birth defects like:

  • Heart defects
  • Neural tube defects
  • PPHN (persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn)
  • Cleft palate
  • Limb defects
  • Omphalocele
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Anal atresia

Preventing Birth Defects During Pregnancy

Although some birth defects are caused by genetic factors that typically cannot be avoided, a percentage of birth defects are caused by a baby’s exposure to certain pharmaceutical drugs in pregnancy, which can certainly be prevented. Most birth defects occur during the first trimester of pregnancy, which is when the baby’s vital organs and bodily structures are just beginning to develop. Unfortunately, this is the time when a child is particularly susceptible to catastrophic harm, and an interruption in the baby’s development can have life-altering consequences. While pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant are the populations most concerned about birth defects caused by dangerous medications, all women of childbearing age should be aware of the possible side effects of their prescription drugs, and should use two reliable methods of birth control when taking antidepressant drugs like Celexa. Because nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, all women between the ages of 18 and 45 may be at risk of causing permanent harm to their unborn child before they are even aware they are pregnant. If your child was born with a serious birth defect and you believe Celexa to be the cause, contact a birth defect attorney today, as your child may be entitled to lifetime care.

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