Although birth defects seem like a rare occurrence, they are actually quite common, affecting one in every 33 babies. Birth defects come in all shapes and forms, but are generally defined as a malformation in the way a baby’s body looks or functions, caused by an interruption during fetal development. A possible cause of birth defects that has finally begun to draw significant attention is a mother’s use of certain pharmaceutical drugs during pregnancy. Antidepressant drugs in particular, while extremely popular in the United States, have been pegged as possibly increasing a baby’s risk of being born with serious birth defects. The SSRI antidepressant Lexapro (escitalopram), for example, was approved by the FDA in 2002 and is commonly prescribed to patients suffering from major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Unfortunately, pregnant women who take Lexapro or patients who become pregnant while taking the antidepressant, may have an increased risk of giving birth to a baby with one or more life-threatening birth defects. If you took Lexapro while pregnant and your child was born with a major malformation, contact a birth defect attorney for legal help.
Birth defects are typically categorized as developmental, metabolic or structural, and can interfere with a child’s movement, learning, development, hearing, vision, and growth. While some birth defects are minor and may require little to no treatment, others have the potential to permanently alter a child’s quality of life, and may even result in premature death. Studies have drawn a potential connection between the use of SSRI antidepressants like Lexapro during pregnancy and the development of birth defects like:
The long-term consequences of birth defects can be extremely serious, which is why it is important that drug companies notify the public about any birth defect side effects possibly linked to their medications. Unfortunately, some pharmaceutical companies intentionally withhold dangerous drug information in an attempt to make their product more appealing to the public. This deceptive practice robs patients, namely pregnant women, of the right to accurate drug information, and prevents them from making educated decisions regarding the safety of their medications.
Most birth defects occur during the first trimester of pregnancy, before many women are even aware they are pregnant. Unfortunately, this is also the time that babies’ vital organs and bodily structures are beginning to develop, making them especially vulnerable to devastating injury. Some birth defects are caused by genetic factors that are, regrettably, unavoidable, although many are caused by completely preventable factors, including maternal use of pharmaceutical drugs in pregnancy. Even women who don’t intend to become pregnant but are of childbearing age may be at risk of causing irreversible harm to their unborn child by using certain medications, as nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. By bringing public attention to the serious matter of pharmaceutical drug-related birth defects, consumers can help increase birth defect knowledge, prevent further injury, and help those already affected by a birth defect pursue critical compensation. If your child was born with a serious birth defect and you believe a Lexapro to be the cause, contact a birth defect attorney immediately, as your child may be entitled to lifetime care.