Prozac and Birth Defects - Consumer Justice Foundation

Prozac and Birth Defects

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Prozac and Birth Defects

Women who take the antidepressant Prozac while pregnant may be at risk of giving birth to children with life-threatening birth defects.

Antidepressant medications like Prozac have quickly become one of the most commonly prescribed classes of drugs in the United States. Originally approved in 1987 as a treatment for major depressive disorder, Prozac (fluoxetine) has since been used to treat conditions like bulimia nervosa and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Although Prozac was perceived as a scientific breakthrough in its time, Eli Lilly & Company’s antidepressant has since been linked to major birth defects that may affect babies exposed to the drug in pregnancy. Birth defects occur when the development of a baby is interrupted during pregnancy, resulting in defects in the way a baby’s body looks or works. Birth defects are typically categorized as structural, metabolic or developmental, and can adversely affect the way a child moves, thinks, grows, hears, sees, and develops. While bringing birth defect information to light may help women prevent malformations in their children in the future, lack of adequate information in the past about birth defect risks may have already affected the lives of any number of children. If you took Prozac while pregnant and your child was born with a major birth defect, contact a knowledgeable birth defect attorney for legal help.

Birth Defects Possibly Linked to Prozac

In exploring the pregnancy risks of certain pharmaceutical drugs, researchers have found a possible link between Eli Lilly’s Prozac and life-threatening birth defects. According to these studies, women who take the SSRI antidepressant Prozac while pregnant may have a significantly increased risk of giving birth to children with one or more major birth defects. Among the potential Prozac birth defects are:

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

Research indicates that one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect, many of which are caused by avoidable factors like maternal use of certain pharmaceutical drugs in pregnancy. Unfortunately, we as a society can’t even begin to reduce the incidence of pharmaceutical drug-related birth defects until drug companies like Eli Lilly pledge to provide accurate information about drug side effects to doctors, the FDA and American consumers. Only then can pregnant women and other patients consult with their physicians and weigh the possible benefits of a specific treatment against the potential birth defect risks. In some cases, patients and doctors may be able to find an alternative treatment to Prozac, associated with a lower risk of birth defects.

How Women Can Prevent Birth Defects in Pregnancy

The most powerful preventative method against birth defects is knowledge. Just by being aware of all potential side effects associated with a medication like Prozac, including birth defects, women can make educated decisions about which drugs are safe for them to take during pregnancy and which aren’t. Even women who aren’t planning to become pregnant but are of childbearing age should stay informed about any birth defect risks that may be linked to their Prozac medication. 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 devastating harm to their unborn child before they are even aware they are pregnant. Unfortunately, women who took Prozac in the past and have since given birth to a child with one or more birth defects may be forced to watch their children struggle with physical or developmental disabilities for the rest of their lives. If you took Prozac while pregnant and your child was born with a serious birth defect, contact an experienced birth defect attorney today, as your child may be entitled to lifetime care.

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