Antidepressant drugs such as Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft have been linked to an increased risk of atrial septal defects (ASDs) in children born to mothers who took the drugs while pregnant. Also referred to as a hole in the heart, an ASD is a potentially life-threatening congenital birth defect in which there is an opening in the dividing wall between the upper filling chambers of the heart (atria). The atrial septal defects lawyers at Schmidt & Clark, LLP are currently accepting potential lawsuits nationwide on behalf of babies born with ASDs after their mothers took antidepressants during pregnancy.

Atrial Septal Defects Lawsuit Review:If you or somebody you know has a child that has been diagnosed with a birth defect related to antidepressant medications, 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 atrial septal defects?

Since September 2005, information has been emerging that certain antidepressant medications may cause ASDs and other heart, lung, neural-tube and abdominal wall defects. Our firm is currently investigating whether or not the following antidepressants cause atrial septal defects:

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

Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) Overview

In a normal heart, oxygen-poor blood enters from the body through the right atrium, where it is sent to the right ventricle. From there, the blood is pumped to the lungs, where it is enriched with oxygen and sent back to the heart, where it enters the left atrium. Blood then moves into the heart’s left ventricle, from which it is transported to the rest of the body.

When a baby is developing in the womb, there is normally an opening between the two atria (the upper chambers of the heart) that allows blood to bypass the lungs. It begins as a hollow tube, then partitions develop within the tube that eventually become the walls that divide the right side of the heart from the left. This tube is supposed to close around the time the baby is delivered. Atrial septal defects occur when the partitioning process doesn’t complete, leaving an opening in the septum. When an ASD is present, blood flows through the hole primarily from the left atrium to the right atrium. This ‘shunting’ increases the blood volume in the right atrium, which means more blood flows through the lungs than normally would.

Atrial Septal Defects: Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of antidepressant-induced atrial septal defects may include:

  • heart murmur
  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue
  • irregular heartbeat
  • heart palpitations
  • stroke
  • frequent lung infections
  • blue tint to the skin and lips (cyanosis)
  • swelling of the legs, feet or abdomen

If left untreated, ASDs may cause serious problems that manifest themselves in adulthood. These complications may include:

  • pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs)
  • congestive heart failure (weakening of the heart muscle)
  • atrial arrhythmias (abnormal rhythms or beating of the heart)
  • increased risk of stroke

Treatment for Atrial Septal Defects

Depending on the severity of the condition, your child’s atrial septal defect may not require immediate surgical intervention. However, if treatment is necessary, the following options are available:

  • Medical Management – Drugs like Digoxin can help strengthen the heart muscle, enabling it to pump more efficiently. Diuretics can help the kidneys remove excess fluids from the body.
  • Infection Control – Children with ASDs are at risk for developing an infection of the inner surfaces of the heart, known as bacterial endocarditis. This may require antibiotics or other methods of preventing infection.
  • Cardiac Catheterization – In severe cases of ASD, an umbrella-shaped patch is closed and inserted into the damaged area through a small tube called a catheter. The patch is then opened to cover the hole.
  • Surgical Repair – If cardiac catheterization is not possible, surgical intervention involving stitches or patches to repair the hole in the wall may be used. If this is the case, the child will be connected to a heart-lung machine, which will perform the function of the heart during surgery.

ASD Antidepressant Medical Studies

In 2007, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) found a ‘significant association’ between antidepressant drugs and septal heart defects. According to the study, mothers who took SSRIs during pregnancy doubled their risk of having a baby born with septal defects. Another study published in the March 2010 edition of Pediatrics found a potential link between exposure to antidepressants in late pregnancy and a delay in motor development skills at six and 19 months of age. A third study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that women who were pregnant and taking certain antidepressants during the first trimester – a time when many women may still be unaware they are pregnant – had an increased risk of giving birth to babies with various heart defects.

Other Birth Defects Linked to Antidepressants

In addition to atrial septal defects, the following birth defects have been associated with maternal use of antidepressant medications during pregnancy:

  • Ventricular Septal Defects
  • Ebstein’s Anomaly
  • Mitral Valve Prolapse
  • Transposition of the Great Arteries
  • Tetralogy of Fallot
  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS)
  • Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome (HRHS)
  • Tricuspid Valve Stenosis
  • Tricuspid Atresia
  • Aortic Stenosis
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)
  • Coarctation of the Aorta
  • Truncus Arteriosus
  • Heart Murmur
  • Pulmonary Stenosis
  • Pulmonary Atresia
  • Gastroschisis – abdominal wall defect
  • Esophageal Stenosis
  • Esophageal Atresia
  • Clubfoot
  • Anal Atresia
  • Spina Bifida
  • Neural Tube Defects
  • Hypoplasia
  • Hydranencephaly
  • Anencephaly
  • Hand Malformations
  • Cleft Lip
  • Cleft Palate
  • Fetal Death
  • Growth Retardation
  • Iniencephaly
  • Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN)
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Hypospadias
  • Mental Retardation
  • Autism
  • Omphalocele
  • Encephalocele
  • Down Syndrome
  • Dandy Walker Syndrome
  • Undescended Testicles
  • Cloacal Exstrophy
  • Hydronephrosis
  • Heart Malformations

Is there a time limit in filing an atrial septal defects lawsuit?

Although we encourage all our potential clients to take great care in selecting their atrial septal defects 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 atrial septal defects lawsuit and look forward to speaking with you.

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