Studies have revealed a significant link between the maternal use of certain antidepressant drugs and coarctation of the aorta (CoA), a congenital birth defect characterized by the narrowing of the main artery that pumps oxygen-rich blood to the body. If left untreated, CoA can be life-threatening. The Defective Drug Lawyers at Schmidt & Clark, LLP are currently accepting potential lawsuits nationwide on behalf of victims injured by antidepressant-induced birth defects.

Coarctation of the Aorta Suit Review:If you or somebody you know has a child who has been diagnosed with coarctation of the aorta after being exposed to antidepressant drugs 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 antidepressants have been linked to Coarctation of the Aorta?

Unfortunately, a growing number of women have reportedly given birth to babies born with coarctation of the aorta and other severe birth defects after taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy (especially during the first trimester, a time when many women may still be unaware they are pregnant). The following SSRI antidepressants have been linked to CoA and other birth defects:

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

Coarctation of the Aorta Overview

Coarctation of the aorta (also commonly referred to as aortic coarctation) is a severe congenital birth defect in which the aorta narrows around the area of the ductus arteriosus (DA). The DA is a blood vessel that is normally present in a fetus that has a special tissue in its wall that causes it to close in the first hours or days of life. It has been theorized that CoA may be caused by the presence of extra ductal tissue extending to the adjacent aorta, which results in the aortic narrowing as the ductal tissue contracts.

There are three separate and distinct varieties of coarctation of the aorta:

  1. Preductal Coarctation: Occurs when the narrowing is proximal to the ductus arteriosus. Preductal coarctation results when an intracardiac anomaly decreases blood flow through the left side of the heart, leading to hypoplastic development of the aorta. This type of CoA is seen in approximately five percent of babies born with Turner Syndrome.
  2. Ductal Coarctation: The narrowing of the aorta begins at the point of insertion of the ductus arteriosus. Ductal coarctation typically appears around the time the ductus arteriosus closes (usually a short time following the birth of the baby).
  3. Postductal Coarctation: Commonly found in adults, postductal coarctation occurs after the point of insertion of the ductus arteriosus. This defect is typically accompanied by notching of the ribs, hypertension of the upper extremities, and weak pulses in the lower extremities.

Coarctation of the aorta is also commonly accompanied by a variety of other cardiac defects, most often involving the left side of the heart. The defects most commonly seen with CoA are bicuspid aortic valve and ventricular septal defects. Coarctation may also be seen as a part of a more complex, single ventricle cardiac defect.

Symptoms & Complications of CoA

Symptoms of coarctation of the aorta will vary significantly depending on how much blood can flow through the artery, as well as any other heart defects that may accompany the condition. Telltale signs of CoA typically appear within the first few days of life. However, in milder cases, symptoms may not develop until the child has reached adolescence. Symptoms may include (but are not limited to):

  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • shortness of breath
  • pounding headache
  • chest pain
  • cold feet or legs
  • nosebleed
  • leg cramps with exercise
  • high blood pressure (hypertension) with exercise
  • decreased ability to exercise
  • failure to thrive
  • poor growth

Untreated cases of CoA frequently lead to severe complications resulting from long-standing high blood pressure caused by the condition. Complications may include:

  • high blood pressure
  • stroke
  • rupture of the aorta
  • premature coronary artery disease — narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the heart
  • weakened or bulging artery in the brain (cerebral aneurysm)
  • organ failure resulting from the heart’s inability to pump adequate amounts of oxygen-rich blood to the body

Tests & Diagnosis

The age of diagnosis typically depends on the severity of the condition. If CoA is severe, it is usually diagnosed during infancy (often within hours or days after birth). Tests to confirm a diagnosis may include:

  • chest X-rays
  • echocardiogram
  • electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • cardiac catheterization

Adolescents and adults with coarctation of the aorta tend to have milder cases, and often go undiagnosed until a doctor detects:

  • high blood pressure in the arms
  • blood pressure difference between arms and legs
  • weak or delayed pulse in the legs
  • heart murmur — an abnormal whooshing sound caused by turbulent blood flow

How is Coarctation of the Aorta Treated?

In infants with severe cases of CoA, the most important thing is to improve ventricular function and restore blood flow to the body. Prostaglandin (PGE-1) and other drugs may be used to open the ductus arteriosus, allowing blood to flow beyond the areas of coarctation. Surgical repair is usually performed immediately following initial stabilization. The most common surgical repair involves removal of the narrowed area and reconnecting the two ends to each other.

In older children, catheter-based therapy may be applied. In certain cases, the area of narrowing may be dilated with a balloon and placement of a mesh-covered stent. The severity of the narrowing and age of the child are taken into consideration before deciding if balloon dilation is a realistic option for treatment.

Is there a time limit in filing a coarctation of the aorta lawsuit?

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

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