Zoloft and Birth Defects - Consumer Justice Foundation

Zoloft and Birth Defects

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Zoloft and Birth Defects

Children born to women who take Zoloft while pregnant may have an increased risk of developing life-changing and potentially fatal birth defects.

It’s hard to imagine anything more devastating than giving birth to a baby only to discover that the child is suffering from a serious and possibly even life-threatening birth defect. Even more devastating would be to learn that the birth defect may have been caused by the antidepressant drug you took while you were pregnant. As more and more Americans are being prescribed antidepressants for conditions ranging from depression to social anxiety disorder, more attention is being paid to the potentially dangerous side effects of these drugs, namely catastrophic birth defects in children exposed to the drug in pregnancy. Zoloft (sertraline) is an SSRI antidepressant manufactured by Pfizer, Inc., and is already celebrating more than two decades on the market in the U.S. Despite its lasting popularity, the fact that women who become pregnant while taking Zoloft may put their unborn child at risk of developing catastrophic birth defects has prompted health officials to issue a warning to consumers regarding antidepressant birth defects. Because nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, even women who are not planning to become pregnant but are of childbearing age may be at risk of causing irreversible harm to their unborn child before they are even aware they are pregnant. If you took Zoloft while pregnant and your baby was born with a serious malformation, contact a skilled birth defect attorney today, as your child may be entitled to lifetime care.

Birth Defects Possibly Linked to Zoloft

Birth defects are defined as malformations that occur while the baby is developing in utero, causing problems in the way the baby’s body looks or functions. Birth defects can range in severity from minor malformations that require little to no treatment, to severely disabling birth defects that can prematurely end a child’s life. For the most part, birth defects are categorized as structural, metabolic or developmental, depending on how they affect the child, and can cause complications in the way a child looks, moves, thinks, develops and learns. Studies have shown that babies who are exposed to the antidepressant Zoloft during pregnancy may have an increased risk of being born with serious birth defects, including:

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

Most birth defects occur during the early stages of pregnancy, while a baby’s major organs and bodily structures are just beginning to develop. This is when a baby is most vulnerable to the kind of harm that can significantly affect the rest of their lives. Although some birth defects, like cleft lip and cleft palate, can be effectively treated with few long-term complications, birth defects in general are the leading cause of infant mortality during the first year of life.

Preventing Birth Defects in Pregnancy

One of the main responsibilities of healthcare professionals is to provide patients with accurate information about the benefits and risks of pharmaceutical drugs, so that they can make educated decisions about which medications are safe for them to take and which aren’t. Pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant in particular need to be careful about what meds they put in their bodies, since many drugs can affect the baby as well as the mother. Unfortunately, some drug companies conceal the side effects of their drugs from the FDA, doctors and consumers, preventing patients from remaining informed about the pregnancy risks and birth defects associated with their medications. Only with adequate information about the possible benefits and potential risks of pharmaceutical drugs can women of childbearing age determine whether a certain treatment is worthwhile, or whether they should pursue alternative treatment options. If your child was born with a major birth defect and you believe Zoloft to be the cause, contact a defective drug attorney for legal help.

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