A number of popular antidepressant drugs including Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft have been linked in recent studies to a rare congenital birth defect known as Ebstein’s anomaly. This potentially life-threatening defect occurs when the heart’s tricuspid valve – the valve that separates the right upper and lower chambers – is malformed, which results in a backup of blood flow throughout the heart. Although the exact cause of Ebstein’s anomaly is still not clearly understood by the medical community, the use of antidepressant drugs by pregnant women may play a central role in the development of the defect.
Ebstein’s Anomaly Lawsuit Review: If you or somebody you know has a child who has been diagnosed with Ebstein’s anomaly after being exposed to an antidepressant drug 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 Ebstein’s Anomaly?
The following antidepressants have been associated with the development of Ebstein’s anomaly in children born to mothers who took them 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)
Ebstein’s Anomaly Overview
Ebstein’s anomaly occurs when two leaflets of the tricuspid valve are displaced downward into the pumping chamber (right ventricle). The third leaflet is typically elongated, and may be tethered to the wall of the chamber. This causes the tricuspid valve to leak backwards into the right atrium when the right ventricle contracts. When this occurs over an extended period of time, the right atrium becomes enlarged. If the leak is severe enough and left untreated, congestive heart failure can follow.
When a baby is developing in the womb, there is a hole between the right and left atrium known as the foramen ovale (PFO). The PFO is normally supposed to close at birth or soon thereafter. In babies born with Ebstein’s Anomaly, however, the high pressure in the right atrium keeps the PFO open. When this occurs, unoxygenated (blue) blood bypasses the lungs and goes directly out into the body. This results in severely depleted oxygen levels in the blood, and is why babies born with Ebstein’s anomaly may appear blue (cyanotic).
Epstein’s anomaly is typically accompanied by a variety of other congenital birth defects including:
- pulmonary valve stenosis
- pulmonary valve atresia
- atrial septal defects (ASD)
- ventricular septal defects (VSD)
- accessory (extra) conduction pathways in the heart (Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome)
- abnormal fast heart rate (supraventricular tachycardia)
Signs & Symptoms of Ebstein’s Anomaly
Telltale signs of Ebstein’s anomaly are typically apparent shortly after birth. However, in some cases they aren’t recognized until later in childhood. This is due to a wide disparity in the severity of this defect. Common signs and symptoms of antidepressant-induced Ebstein’s anomaly may include:
- Blue color of the skin, lips and nailbeds (cyanosis)
- Heart murmur or extra heart sounds
- Abnormal heart rhythms
Fast breathing during rest or exercise
- Cough and congestion in the lungs
- Shortness of breath or labored breathing
Diagnosis & Treatment
If your child’s physician suspects Ebstein’s anomaly, one of the following tests may be recommended:
- Chest X-ray
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Holter monitoring test
- Cardiac MRI
- Cardiac catheterization
If a conclusive determination has been made that your baby does has Ebstein’s anomaly, treatment will depend on how severe the defect is. Most mild cases require little if any specific treatment, with the exception of antibiotics for certain kinds of surgeries. Prescription drugs may be used when blood moves in the wrong direction and causes heart failure, or in cases where abnormal heart rhythms are present.
In severe cases of Ebstein’s anomaly, surgery may be required to repair or even replace the tricuspid valve, and to fix the parts of the right ventricle that are acting like the right atrium. Heart rhythm abnormalities can be corrected either at the time of the initial surgery, or can be treated later with cardiac catheterization and high energy radio waves to destroy the small part of the muscle.
Complications & Prognosis (Outlook)
Many babies born with Ebstein’s anomaly will have few if any complications. However, some precautions will have to be taken in certain situations. The prognosis largely depends on how early in life the child starts exhibiting signs and symptoms, and how bad the tricuspid valve is leaking. The earlier the side effects begin, the more serious the condition.
If your child has a mild case of Ebstein’s anomaly, he or she will most likely be able to participate in most normal physical activities. Depending on the severity of the condition, your child’s physician may recommend avoiding intense competitive sports such as football or basketball.
Is there a time limit in filing an Ebstein’s Anomaly lawsuit?
Although we encourage all our potential clients to take great care in selecting their Ebstein’s anomaly 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 Ebstein’s anomaly birth defects lawsuit and look forward to speaking with you.
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