Wellbutrin and Birth Defects - Consumer Justice Foundation

Wellbutrin and Birth Defects

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Wellbutrin and Birth Defects

Babies born to women who take the antidepressant Wellbutrin may have an increased risk of developing life-threatening birth defects.

Although birth defects sometimes seem like an unlikely occurrence that could never harm your family, congenital malformations are actually quite common, affecting one in every 33 babies. And believe it or not, one major risk factor for birth defects may stem right from your doctor’s office. Studies have shown in recent years that some prescription medications, like the popular antidepressant drug Wellbutrin, may have the ability to interrupt fetal development and cause birth defects in babies when taken during pregnancy. Wellbutrin (bupropion) has been available in the U.S. since 1985 and is commonly used to treat major depressive disorder and a condition called seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that occurs mostly in the winter and fall. Although GlaxoSmithKline’s Wellbutrin is one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants on the market, the fact that the drug may increase a child’s risk of being born with one or more birth defects is alarming. If you took Wellbutrin while pregnant and your child has suffered from a serious birth defect, contact a birth defect attorney today.

Birth Defects Possibly Linked to Wellbutrin

Birth defects are caused by some factor that interrupts a child’s development in utero and affects the way the baby’s body looks or works. Birth defects can be described as metabolic, developmental or structural, and can disturb the baby’s hearing, vision, growth, learning, movement or development. Wellbutrin in particular may be associated with birth defects like:

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

Most birth defects occur during the first trimester of pregnancy, when a child’s vital organs and bodily structures are developing. Unfortunately, this is also the period of time when a child is most vulnerable to harm, which can result in significant damage to the brain, spinal cord, heart or lungs. Because nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, all women of childbearing age taking pharmaceutical drugs may be at risk of causing irreversible harm to their unborn child before they are even aware they are pregnant.

Preventing Birth Defects in Pregnancy

While some birth defects are caused by genetic factors and are therefore unavoidable, many birth defects may be caused by preventable factors, like maternal use of Wellbutrin or other medications in pregnancy. Armed with accurate information about drug side effects, including the risk of birth defects, patients can more adequately protect themselves and the safety of their unborn child. Unfortunately, some pharmaceutical companies make this impossible, withholding dangerous drug information to better serve their own interests. Regardless of the cause, a birth defect in any shape or form is devastating, potentially resulting in long-term complications for the baby and his or her family. If your baby was born with a serious birth defect and you believe Wellbutrin to be the cause, contact a birth defect attorney, as your child may be entitled to lifetime care.

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