Cleft lip is one of the serious congenital birth defects that has been increasingly associated with the maternal use of certain best-selling prescription medications. The defect is characterized by a vertical fissure in the upper lip connecting to the nose. If your child was born with a cleft lip after being exposed to prescription drugs in the womb, contact the Defective Drug Lawyers at Schmidt & Clark, LLP today. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit and we can help. Prescription drugs linked to cleft lip include antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft, as well as anti-epileptic medications such as Depakote and Topamax.

Cleft Lip Lawsuit Review:If you or somebody you know gave birth to a child with cleft lip or other serious birth defect after taking prescription drugs during pregnancy, 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 cleft lip?

Studies suggest that the following prescription medications may be associated with the development of cleft lip birth defects if taken by expecting mothers during pregnancy (especially 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)
    • Depakote (Divalproex Sodium)
    • Depakote CP
    • Depakote ER
    • Depakene (valproic acid)
    • Depacon (valproate sodium injection)
    • Topamax (topiramate)

Cleft Lip Overview

Cleft lip (also commonly referred to as cheiloschisis) is an abnormal facial development that occurs in the womb during the first trimester of pregnancy. Before birth, there are natural structures that form in the body which proceed to subsequently fuse together over time. The term ‘cleft’ refers to a non-fusion of structures, a fissure or gap. In this case, the cleft occurs in the upper lip. When just one side of the lip is affected, it is called a unilateral cleft; a bilateral cleft affects both sides of the lip.

Signs & Symptoms of Cleft Lip

Cleft lip is typically identifiable at birth, and can affect one or both sides of the face. A cleft is a fissure or opening that represents the non-fusion of the body’s natural structures. Signs and symptoms of an antidepressant-induced cleft lip include:

  • change in nose shape
  • failure to gain weight
  • feeding problems
  • flow of milk through nasal passages during feeding
  • misaligned teeth
  • poor growth
  • recurrent ear infections
  • separation of the lip
  • speech difficulties

Complications of Cleft Lip

Cleft lip may cause problems with feeding, ear disease, speech and socialization.

Due to the lack of suction, a newborn with cleft lip may have trouble feeding. Babies suffering from the condition should always be fed in the upright position, as gravity tends to help prevent milk from coming in through the baby’s nose.

Individuals with cleft lip may also experience numerous middle ear infections which can eventually lead to total hearing loss. Since hearing is necessary to learn how to speak, babies with cleft lips cannot try to mimic the sounds of speech around them. Thus, even before expressive language acquisition, a baby with cleft lip is at risk for receptive language acquisition. And because the lips are used in pronunciation, individuals with cleft lips usually require the aid of a long-term speech therapist.


Due to the large number of oral health and medical problems typically accompanying cleft lip birth defects, a team of doctors and other specialists are usually involved in the care of these children. Depending on the severity of the defect, a cleft lip may require one or more surgeries to correct. The first surgery is usually performed within the first few months of life.

The initial surgery creates a functional lip, reduces the chance that fluid will build up in the middle ears, and aids in the proper development of the teeth and facial bones. Additional surgeries may be performed to improve the appearance of the lip and nose, help breathing, and realign the jaw. Final repairs of the scars left by the first surgery will probably not be performed until adolescence, when the facial structure is more fully developed.

How Common is Cleft Lip?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), approximately one in every 700 infants born in the United States are born with cleft lip and/or cleft palate. The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom reports the figure to be about one in 600. Cleft lip appears to occur more often in Caucasian and Asian babies compared to those of African descent. Just cleft lip is more common in females, while the combination of cleft lip and cleft palate is more common in males. Approximately 50% of all children born with oral cleft defects have the combination of cleft lip and cleft palate, while the rest are more or less evenly divided between one defect or the other.

Is there a time limit in filing a cleft lip lawsuit?

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

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