Antidepressant medications were originally developed as the primary treatment for individuals suffering from depression, although many have since been approved for additional indications and are even used for off-label purposes when physicians see fit. Celexa is one of a group of prescription antidepressant medications called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, a category which represents some of the most popular antidepressant drugs on the market. These drugs function by balancing the level of serotonin in the brain, thereby relieving depression and improving certain mood disorders. The active ingredient in Celexa is citalopram, and the drug was approved by the FDA in 1998 for the treatment of major depressive disorder. Celexa is currently manufactured by pharmaceutical company, Forest Laboratories and is among the most widely prescribed antidepressants available. However, recent research has indicated a possible increased risk of major birth defects among infants whose mothers take SSRIs like Celexa while pregnant. Among these alleged Celexa birth defects if a craniofacial malformation called cleft palate.
Cleft palate is a congenital birth defect involving the improper formation of a child’s palate in utero. Under normal circumstances, the palate, or roof of the mouth, begins to form after the fifth week of gestation. In some cases, however, there may not be enough tissue in the palate area as this structure is developing, resulting in a cleft palate. A cleft palate is characterized by an opening in the roof of the mouth and can vary in severity from a small opening at the back of the mouth to a nearly complete separation of the roof of the mouth.
Although there are temporary solutions for a cleft palate, including the implantation of a man-made palate, the only way to permanently correct the defect and relieve the symptoms associated with the condition is for an affected child to undergo reconstructive surgery. Without treatment, a child may suffer from significant complications, including recurring ear infections, hearing loss, feeding difficulties, speech and language delay, and dental issues like missing or malformed teeth.
The FDA issued a public health advisory in 2006 warning patients and healthcare providers about the potential connection between the use of SSRI antidepressants like Celexa and the development of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), a life-threatening heart and lung condition. The FDA also required all sponsors of SSRI drugs to update their drug warning labels to include potential pregnancy precautions, particularly PPHN. This FDA decision came on the heels of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier that year. Researchers involved in this study determined that infants whose mothers took SSRI antidepressants like Celexa during the third trimester of pregnancy were six times more likely to be born with PPHN, compared to infants who were not exposed to an SSRI in utero.
Two additional SSRI birth defect studies were published in the American Journal of Nursing and the journal Pediatrics. The former study indicated that women who took SSRI antidepressants while pregnant were nearly twice as likely to give birth to infants with septal heart defects. The latter study determined that infants born to women who took one or more SSRIs during pregnancy had an increased risk of struggling with decreased neurological development, abnormal heart rhythms, unusual sleeping patterns, and problems with alertness.
The FDA has classified Celexa as a pregnancy category C medication, which means the drug has the potential to cause serious harm to a fetus when taken during pregnancy. If you are currently taking Celexa and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your physician as soon as possible. It may be dangerous to discontinue use of a prescription medication without medical consent, as this may cause further damage, but with your doctor’s aid, you may be able to find a safer method of treatment. Unfortunately, because most birth defects are already established by the end of the first trimester, and because nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned, all women of childbearing age taking Celexa may be at risk of causing irreversible harm to their unborn child before they are even aware they are pregnant. Remarkably, research shows that SSRI antidepressants like Celexa represent the most frequently used antidepressant among pregnant women.
Drug manufacturing companies like Forest Laboratories are responsible for producing and manufacturing safe and effective medications, and are also expected to notify the public of any adverse side effects associated with their drugs. Unfortunately, some pharmaceutical companies intentionally withhold this information in order to avoid a drug recall or other negative consequences. This puts consumers unknowingly at risk of suffering severe injuries and even death, which could have been avoided had the drug company taken the appropriate steps to avoid unnecessary harm. The only way for victims of alleged Celexa birth defects to protect their rights and hold the appropriate party liable for their injuries is to hire a qualified Celexa attorney to represent their case.
Birth defects like cleft palate have the potential to cause serious complications for an affected child. In addition, children with cleft palate typically require surgery in order to correct the defect and restore the function and appearance of the palate. Proper treatment for birth defect victims can lead to costly medical expenses, which can be an overwhelming burden for a family already emotionally distressed by a birth defect diagnosis. If you or a loved one has suffered from a cleft palate which you believe to be associated with the use of Celexa, contact a Celexa lawyer to discuss the benefits of filing a Celexa lawsuit against Forest Laboratories. The goal of Celexa lawsuits and potential Celexa class action lawsuits is to seek financial compensation for your injuries, the medical expenses resulting from injury treatment, and the pain and suffering endured by you and your family. Defective drug litigation can be a complicated process, but with the help of an experienced Celexa attorney, you can feel confident that your case is in good hands.