Celexa (generic: citalopram) is a popular anti-depressant drug that belongs to the SSRI group. While effective in treating mood disorders, SSRIs may cause severe birth defects in children born to mothers who take the drug during pregnancy. Studies suggest these children may be at increased risks of persistent pulmonary hypertension, autism and various forms of cranial, heart and abdominal defects.

Celexa Birth Defects Lawsuit Review: If you or somebody you know has a child that has been diagnosed with a birth defect related to Celexa, 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.

What birth defects are linked to Celexa?

Celexa has been linked to the following forms of birth defects in infants:

Celexa Overview

Forest Pharmaceuticals’s medication, Celexa, was FDA approved in 1998 to treat depression. The antidepressant medication belongs to a group of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs are the most commonly used drugs to treat depression in the United States.

Serotonin is a naturally occurring substance in the brain, which helps to improve mood problems. When people have the onset of depression, they are not getting enough serotonin in the brain. SSRIs work to restore the balance of serotonin, leading to increased feelings of happiness.

Unfortunately, the main active ingredient in Celexa, citalopram, has been shown to cause harm to a fetus if a mother uses it during the last 3 months of pregnancy. Most seriously, Celexa and other SSRIs have been linked to heightened risks of persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) and heart defects. Some of the complications require prolonged hospitalization, respiratory support and tube feeding.

Citalopram and Celexa have been assigned to the FDA category C, meaning animal studies have shown a risk to the fetus.

Due to the severity of these symptoms, Celexa patients may want to contact one of our Celexa lawyers or attorneys to discuss the possibility of a Celexa lawsuit.

FDA Studies and Warning

In July 2006, the FDA released the findings of two studies regarding mothers who took SSRIs.

The first study, published February 1, 2006 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, followed mothers who were taking SSRIs before becoming pregnant in order to treat depression. The study found that women who stopped taking their medications during pregnancy were five times more likely to have a relapse of depression during their pregnancy.

The second study, published February 9, 2006 in The New England Journal of Medicine, found baby’s born to mothers who take SSRIs during pregnancy were six times as likely to display the condition of persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN).

The FDA noted that these concerns of PPHN in babies was in addition to previous reports that infants of mothers taking SSRIs late in pregnancy may experience irritability, difficulty feeding and in very rare cases, difficulty breathing.

Said the FDA in a Public Health Advisory:
“Uncertainty about these rare events and their potential impact on the newborn, along with the potential risk to the mother of recurring depression if she stops her antidepressant medicines during pregnancy, makes decisions about the treatment of depression in pregnant women especially challenging for health care professionals and patients.”

While the FDA is currently seeking additional information about the possible risk of PPHN in newborns, in the meantime, they have asked manufacturers of SSRIs to change prescribing information to describe the potential risk of PPHN.

What is Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN)?

PPHN is a serious and life-threatening lung condition that is characterized by high pressure in the lung blood vessels, which do not release enough oxygen in the bloodstream. Typically 1 or 2 babies in 1,000 born in the United States will have the condition.

However, babies born to mothers who took SSRIs after the 20th week of pregnancy are six times as likely to develop PPHN, which is associated with severe morbidity and mortality. Often, they need intensive medical care.

Described simply, PPHN occurs when a baby’s breathing patterns to do transition from how they occurred in the womb to how they should occur after birth. While the baby is in the uterus, it never receives oxygen to its lungs. Instead, the placenta supports the baby with oxygen traveling through the umbilical cord. During pregnancy, the pulmonary artery — which sends blood from the heart to the lungs for oxygen after birth —instead sends blood directly back to the heart through a blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus.

After birth, the ductus arteriosus should permanently close, allowing the pulmonary artery to do its job in transferring blood from the heart to the lungs. In PPHN babies, this does not occur. So while the baby appears to be breathing, he or she may not actually be getting blood pumped to the lungs, creating very low oxygen levels in the blood.

The following signs and symptoms may indicate a baby has PPHN:

  • Rabid breathing
  • Rabid heart rate
  • Respiratory distress
  • Cyanosis (bluish-tint to the skin)
  • Heart murmur

Celexa and Cardiac Birth Defects

On December 8, 2005, the label of antidepressant medication Paxil (paroxetine) was changed to reflect the risk of cardiac birth defects. At the time, the drug was also reclassified to a Category D drug, meaning there was strong evidence that it caused harm to a fetus during pregnancy.

However, there may be connections between other SSRIs and cardiac birth defects.

Most cardiac defects observed in studies were atrial or ventricular septal defects, conditions characterized by holes in the wall between the left and right sides of the heart.

A ventricular septal defect is dangerous because it allows oxygenated blood from the left ventricle to mix with unoxygenated blood in the right ventricle. When the already-oxygenated blood mixes with the unoxygenated blood, it still gets pumped to the lungs again. Therefore, both ventricles end up working harder than they should. The left ventricle can work so hard that it eventually fails, leading to heart failure.

Symptoms of a ventricular septal defect include:

  • Heart murmur
  • Fast breathing
  • Fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Sweating
  • Pallor
  • Very fast heartbeats
  • Decreased feeding
  • Pulmonary congestion
  • Poor weight gain
  • Fluid retention
  • Cyanosis

Abdominal and Cranial Birth Defects

A National Birth Defects Prevention Study of Infants found that SSRI therapy may cause higher risks of abdominal and cranial birth defects, including craniosynostosis and omphalocele.

Craniosynostosis is a type of birth defect affecting a baby’s head. It is a brain condition where parts of the skull close prematurely, which could lead to an abnormally shaped head.

Omphalocele is a condition where portions of the intestine or other abdominal organs stick out of the baby’s belly button. It occurs because the abdominal wall muscles do not close properly, leaving only a thin layer of tissue that can easily be seen.

Prozac and Autism

An article published in the July 2011 edition of The Archives of General Psychiatry found women who took SSRI antidepressants during their first trimester of pregnancy were twice as likely to give birth to a child with autism spectrum disorder.

Autism is a complex developmental disability that causes children to have problems communicating and interacting with others.

Signs and symptoms of autism include:

  • Problems communicating verbally
  • Problems communicating non-verbally (unspoken communication which includes eye contact, pointing and smiling)
  • Problems socializing (sharing emotions, understanding how other think or feel)
  • Routines or repetitive behaviors (repeating words or actions, obsessive following routines)

Is there a time limit in filing a Celexa birth defects lawsuit?

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


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