Paxil and Birth Defects - Consumer Justice Foundation

Paxil and Birth Defects

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Paxil and Birth Defects

Babies born to women who take the antidepressant Paxil in pregnancy may have an increased risk of being born with serious birth defects.

One of the first thing consumers want to know when they start taking a new medication is, what are the side effects I may be exposing myself to by taking this drug? Pregnant women in particular must pay careful attention to the possible side effects of their pharmaceutical drugs, as some medications can increase a baby’s risk of being born with serious birth defects when taken during pregnancy. A birth defect is a malformation in the way a baby’s body looks or functions and can adversely affect a child’s growth, development, learning, hearing, vision, movement, and more. A medication that has been pegged in recent years as possibly causing birth defects in babies is the popular SSRI antidepressant drug called Paxil. Paxil (paroxetine) first entered the market in 1992 as a treatment for major depressive disorder, and has since also been taken by consumers with conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Despite its possible benefits though, the fact that GlaxoSmithKline’s Paxil may cause a newborn baby to suffer from life-threatening birth defects is obviously a cause for concern, which is why it is more important than ever for pregnant women and women of childbearing age to know exactly what they are putting in their bodies. Studies indicate that one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect, a statistic so alarming that considerable attention is finally being paid to the public health issue. Unfortunately, a large percentage of these birth defects are caused by factors that are completely avoidable – maternal use of certain medications in pregnancy. If you took Paxil while pregnant and your child was born with a serious birth defect, contact an experienced birth defect attorney today.

Birth Defects Possibly Linked to Paxil

Birth defects come in all shapes and forms; some can be detected while the baby is still in the womb, while others are immediately noticeable at birth and still others are diagnosed after birth. Birth defects can affect virtually any part of a baby’s body and can vary in severity from a minor physical abnormality to a life-threatening defect of the heart, lungs or another major organ. Most birth defects occur during the early stages of pregnancy when a child’s vital organs and structures are forming, which is also the period of time that a baby is most susceptible to devastating harm. Unfortunately, some birth defects occur before a woman is even aware she is pregnant, which is why all women of childbearing age should use two reliable forms of birth control when taking drugs like Paxil. Paxil in particular may be associated with birth defects serious enough to outweigh any possible benefits of the antidepressant drug. Some possible Paxil birth defects include:

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

Preventing Birth Defects in Pregnancy

While some birth defects are caused by genetic factors that predispose the child to certain malformations, others result from women becoming pregnant while taking potentially dangerous drugs like Paxil. Regardless of the cause, birth defects can cause devastating complications for an affected child, sometimes resulting in side effects like learning disabilities, loss of bodily functions, paralysis, and even death. The duty to protect unborn children from unnecessary harm doesn’t only fall on the mother, however. It is the responsibility of doctors to provide patients with adequate information about the possible side effect risks associated with their drugs so that they can make educated decisions concerning their treatment options. Unfortunately, when drug companies withhold dangerous drug information from the FDA, doctors and consumers, patients may unknowingly expose their unborn child to irreversible harm. If your child was born with a serious birth defect and you believe the antidepressant Paxil to be the cause, contact a birth defect attorney for legal help.

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