Since September 2005, data has been emerging indicating that a number of popular antidepressant drugs like Paxil, Prozac and Lexapro may cause a serious birth defect known as anal atresia. This congenital abnormality occurs when the opening to the anus is missing or blocked. Unfortunately, more than half the children born with anal atresia are born with other serious congenital birth defects.

Anal Atresia Suit Review: If you or somebody you know has a child who was born with anal atresia after being exposed to antidepressants in the womb, you should contact our lawyers immediately. Consultations are always free. Please use our confidential email contact form or call toll free 24 hrs/day by dialing (866) 588-0600.

Which drugs have been linked to anal atresia?

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs are designed to work by restoring balance to the level of serotonin in the brain, thereby relieving the symptoms of depression and other serious psychological disorders. Unfortunately, according to recent research, the following SSRIs have been linked to the development of anal atresia and other serious congenital birth defects when taken by expecting mothers during pregnancy (particularly during the first trimester, a time when many women may still be unaware they are pregnant):

  • Paxil (paroxetine)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Celexa (citalopram)
  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Symbyax (fluoxetine and olanzapine)
  • Wellbutrin (bupropion)
  • Effexor (venlafaxine)

Anal Atresia Overview

Anal atresia (also commonly referred to as imperforate anus) is a rare but extremely serious congenital birth defect which affects the newborn’s anus (the exterior opening from the bowel to the outside of the body). The condition occurs when the anus is abnormally dilated or constricted, positioned abnormally, or when a fistula (crack or channel) is present that empties the colon into the bladder, vagina, or urethra. In some cases, the anal opening is missing altogether. While it is not known for certain how many babies are born with anal atresia, it has been estimated to occur in approximately 1 in 20,000 live births.

Anal atresia is often accompanied by a number of other serious congenital birth defects. It is not uncommon for a child born with this condition to also suffer from:

  • heart malformations
  • limb defects
  • esophageal anomalies

Signs & Symptoms

Anal atresia may be accompanied by the following signs and symptoms:

  • anal opening very near the vagina opening in girls
  • baby does not pass first stool within 24 – 48 hours after birth
  • missing or moved opening to the anus
  • stool passes out of the vagina, base of penis, scrotum, or urethra
  • swollen belly area

Types of Anal Atresia

There are essentially two separate and distinct varieties of anal atresia:

  • High Anal Atresia – This type of defect is characterized in boys by a channel (fistula) connecting the large intestine to the urethra (the tube that delivers urine from the bladder) or the bladder itself. In girls, the channel may connect directly with the vagina. Some 60% of babies born with high anal atresia will have other congenital abnormalities, including problems with the esophagus, urinary tract, or bones.
  • Low Anal Atresia – In low anal atresia, the channel opens in front of the circular mass of muscles that constrict to close the anal sphincter or, in boys, just below the scrotum. In some cases, the intestine ends just under the skin.

Treatment & Expectations (Prognosis)

In babies born with anal atresia, the patient should be examined for other congenital birth defects (especially those involving the genitals, urinary tract and spine). Emergency surgical intervention is almost always necessary. If the rectum connects with other organs, those organs will also need to be repaired. In these cases, a colostomy bag will be needed to connect the end of the large intestine to the abdomen wall so that stool can be collected in a sanitary manner.

The good news is that most cases of anal atresia can be successfully treated with surgery. Most children with minor cases do very well. Those with more complicated defects will often need to follow a bowel program that includes eating high-fiber foods, taking stool softeners, and using enemas. Some children may require additional surgical intervention at some point in the future.

Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has advised physicians to avoid prescribing SSRI medications to expecting mothers unless the potential benefits outweigh the risks to the fetus. If you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant and taking any of the SSRIs mentioned in this article, you should consult with your doctor as soon as possible. Additionally, it is important to understand that you should not stop taking any prescription medication without medical consent, as it could result in serious side effects. With your doctor’s help, you may be able to find a safer alternative to antidepressant drugs for treating your medical condition.

Is there a time limit in filing an anal atresia lawsuit?

Although we encourage all our potential clients to take great care in selecting their anal atresia lawyer, it is important that you understand that time is of the essence. The applicable statute of limitations in your state may time bar your claim. Furthermore, we are unable to provide you with legal advice without first evaluating your potential case. Accordingly, please take the time now to contact us by using the confidential email contact form below or by calling us toll free 24 hrs/day by dialing (866) 588-0600.

We hope we will be able to assist you with your potential antidepressant-induced anal atresia birth defects lawsuit and look forward to speaking with you.


Attention Lawyers:  Schmidt & Clark, LLP considers a referral from another lawyer to be one of the greatest compliments. Our law firm has built a reputation for success and accepts a number of case referrals on a regular basis. We do not publish prior verdicts or settlements on our website. If you would like to refer us a case or for us to send you a profile of prior award judgments or average referral fees, please fill out the form below.