Effexor and Birth Defects - Consumer Justice Foundation

Effexor and Birth Defects

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Effexor and Birth Defects

Women who take the SNRI antidepressant Effexor may be at risk of giving birth to babies with serious birth defects.

Patients depend on their doctors to prescribe them medications they deem to be safe and effective, and notify them of any side effects they may be exposed to by taking certain drugs. Pregnant women in particular rely on the expertise of their physicians to help them avoid taking medications during pregnancy that have the potential to cause harm to their unborn child. Unfortunately, without accurate information about drug side effects, women may take medications while pregnant that can cause their child to develop serious and even life-threatening birth defects. The SNRI antidepressant Effexor, for example, may be linked to major birth defects in children who are exposed to the medication during pregnancy. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals’ Effexor (venlafaxine) arrived on the market in 1993 and is commonly used to treat major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder. Although Effexor may successfully treat these conditions though, it may also cause a newborn baby to be born with one or more severe birth defects, including potentially fatal heart and lung malformations. If you took Effexor while pregnant and your child was born with a serious birth defect, contact a birth defect attorney today for legal help.

Birth Defects Possibly Linked to Effexor

The term birth defect describes a wide variety of malformations that can affect virtually any part of a baby’s body, including internal organs, limbs and the nervous system. Birth defects are typically categorized as developmental, metabolic or structural, and can cause problems in the way a baby thinks, moves, develops, hears, sees or grows. While some birth defects, like cleft lip and cleft palate, can usually be successfully treated with surgery, other malformations, like PPHN and neural tube defects, can cause the baby to die shortly after birth. Among the birth defects possibly associated with Effexor are:

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

How Women Can Prevent Birth Defects

Birth defects are scary, and watching your child suffer from a serious malformation is a devastating experience. Even more devastating is finding out that your baby’s birth defect may have been caused by a medication that you took while pregnant. Most birth defects occur during the first three months of pregnancy, which is when a child is most vulnerable to harm. Unfortunately, this is also the time that a baby is going through a critical stage of development, as his or her internal organs and bodily structures are just beginning to form. When a mom-to-be takes a potentially dangerous drug in early pregnancy, the medication can interfere with the development of the baby, possibly preventing vital parts of the brain, heart, spine and limbs from growing properly. The end result is a birth defect that, if it doesn’t take the baby’s life, can result in long-term complications that significantly impair a child’s ability to live a long, healthy life.

Although the widely-researched birth defect risk associated with some medications seems like it should spur immediate action on the part of healthcare professionals, the FDA and drug companies to better inform the public about drug side effects, this is not the case. In fact, some pharmaceutical companies intentionally withhold dangerous drug information from consumers in order to suit their own interests, possibly putting patients and babies at risk of irreversible harm as a result. If your baby was born with a serious birth defect and you believe the SNRI antidepressant Effexor to be the cause, contact a birth defect attorney immediately, as your child may be entitled to lifetime care.

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