The antidepressant medication Lexapro has been proven to cause birth defects that are severe and possibly deadly. The Food and Drug Administration approved the medication for use by individuals that are experiencing depression and anxiety. Since Lexapro has the potential to cause birth defects such as Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN), defects of the cranium and abdominals and congenital heart defects, the FDA has since placed a warning on this medication.
It is essential that individuals whose lives have been impacted by a birth defect that may have been caused by Lexapro consult with a qualified attorney experienced in managing these types of cases.
Birth Defects Linked to Lexapro
While Lexapro has been prescribed to millions of people diagnosed with depression, expectant mothers have taken Lexapro in an effort to relieve any anxiety that may arise during pregnancy. Babies born to women who have used Lexapro and other similar medications such as Zoloft, Celexa, Prozac, Paxil and Symbyax are at an increased risk for birth defects.
Ventricular septal defects and atrial septal defects are the primary congenital heart defects that can occur when pregnant women take medications that are classified as SSRI antidepressants. When an infant is born with an atrial septal defect, the interatrial septum allows blood to flow within the left and right atria. Blood flows to these areas as a result of an existing hole in the upper heart chambers.
A ventricular septal defect occurs when a gap within the ventricles of the heart allows oxygenated blood to enter the left side of the heart via the defected right side. Even though this blood has already been oxygenated, it returns to the lungs. These actions are problematic since this blood has already been sent to the lungs previously, while blood that needs to be oxygenated is not being sent to the lungs. This causes the heart to become strained and it may increase in size, since it needs to pump excessive amounts of blood.
Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn
In comparison to infants born to mothers who did not take Lexapro during their pregnancy, it has been shown that mothers who have taken Lexapro while they were pregnant are at a greater risk of delivering a baby that has Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn. This condition causes defects in the infant’s circulatory system and makes it difficult for them to breathe normally outside of the womb. It also results in an increase in pressure within the infant’s lungs and interferes with the oxygenation of blood, since blood bypasses the lungs. Without adequate blood flow to the lungs, the infant can suffer from respiratory distress, inadequate oxygenation of blood and acidosis.
Cranial and Brain Defects
It is also possible for Lexapro and other similar antidepressants to cause other birth defects, including craniosynostosis and omphalocele. When an infant has an omphalocele, their intestines and other organs protrude through the abdomen. Their abdominal contents are covered with a thin membrane, which makes these organs more noticeable when they project through the navel.
When a baby is born with craniosynostosis, the joints that are located between the bones in the skull close too soon. This typically occurs before the brain fully develops, which usually results in an infant that has a misshapen head.
Other Birth Defects Caused by Lexapro
Since there are numerous other birth defects that have a potential link to Lexapro, it is important to consult with an attorney who will be able to provide more information about proceeding with legal action. Other possible birth defects linked to Lexapro include heart valve problems, Tetralogy of Fallot, tricuspid valve, aortic stenosis, heart murmur, mitral valve, pulmonary stenosis, transposition of the great arteries, pulmonary atresia, club foot, spina bifida, coarctation of the aorta, anal atresia and others.
Pursuing Legal Action
Women who believe that their infant has suffered a birth defect as a direct result of taking Lexapro should meet with a qualified attorney with a history of dealing with prescription medication. An attorney will be the most equipped to provide details about pursuing a claim, collecting evidence and moving forward with the legal process. An experienced attorney will also be able to answer any questions an individual may have and ensure that they receive adequate compensation for medical costs and other expenses.