Effexor (Venlafaxine) is an antidepressant that belongs to the family of SNRI drugs. These drugs help control naturally-occurring substances in the brain in order to elevate mood. Unfortunately, antidepressants have recently been linked to a string of serious birth defects in children who are born to mothers who took the drugs during pregnancy. The most serious birth defects include persistent pulmonary hypertension, heart defects and autism.
Effexor Birth Defects Lawsuit Review: If you or somebody you know has a child that has been diagnosed with a birth defect related to Effexor, 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 Effexor?
The following list of birth defects have been tied to antidepressants used during pregnancy:
- Atrial Septal Defects
- 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
- Anal Atresia
- Spina Bifida
- Neural Tube Defects
- Hand Malformations
- Cleft Lip
- Cleft Palate
- Fetal Death
- Growth Retardation
- Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN)
- Mental Retardation
- Down Syndrome
- Dandy Walker Syndrome
- Undescended Testicles
- Cloacal Exstrophy
- Heart Malformations
Effexor has also been related to direct toxic effects or withdrawal symptoms in newborns including:
- Respiratory distress
- Temperature instability
- Feeding difficulty
- Constant crying
Wyeth’s Effexor (venlafaxine) was FDA approved in December 1993 to treat major depressive disorders. Extended-release capsules of the drug are also used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and panic disorder.
It belongs to a group of drugs known as selective serotonin and nonrepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). These work by blocking or delaying the reuptake of the neurotransmitters (naturally occurring substances in the body) serotonin and norepinephrine. When these neurotransmitters are not reabsorbed, it increases serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain, causing an elevation in mood. Other SNRIs in the drug family include Pristiq, Cymbalta and Savella.
However, recent reports suggest that antidepressant use during pregnancy may put a mother’s unborn baby at risk of serious side effects including withdrawal symptoms, persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN), autism or heart, cranial or abdominal defects. These complications may require prolonged hospitalization, respiratory support or tube feeding.
Effexor has been labeled a Category C drug by the FDA. This means it may be harmful to an unborn baby, especially if a mother takes it late in pregnancy (third trimester).
Due to the severity of the birth defects associated with Effexor, you or someone you know may want to contact a Effexor birth defects lawyer with our firm to discuss the possibility of a Effexor birth defects lawsuit.
Effexor and Congenital Heart Defects
When taken by pregnant mothers during the first trimester of pregnancy, antidepressants like Effexor have been linked to rare forms of heart defects known as atrial septal defects and ventricular septal defects. Congenital heart defects are defects that occur in the structure of the heart, which are present at birth.
In atrial septal defects and ventricular septal defects, there is a hole in the septum, the wall that divides the left side of the heart from the right side. When this occurs, it allows blood from the right side of the heart to travel to the left side, or vice versa. It often requires surgery to be corrected.
Symptoms and signs of a septal defect include:
- Heart murmur
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of legs, feet or abdomen
- Heart palpitations or skipped beats
- Frequent lung infections
- Bluish skin color
What is Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension?
A 2006 case study referenced by the FDA suggests that antidepressants are linked to increased chances of persistent pulmonary hypertension in the newborn (PPHN).
PPHN describes a condition where the blood cells do not receive enough oxygen. It’s a rare condition where the ductus arteriosus does not permanently close after birth, as it should.
During pregnancy, the fetus never receives any oxygen to the lungs. Instead, the placenta (the organ that nourishes and protests the developing baby) supplies the baby with oxygen through the umbilical cord. As a result, the pulmonary artery does not pump blood to the lungs, as it does after birth. It pumps back to the heart through a blood vessel known as the ductus arteriosus.
After birth, the umbilical cord and placenta cannot supply oxygen to the baby anymore. Instead, the baby has to start breathing naturally. To do this, the pulmonary artery needs to start pumping blood from the heart to the lungs. When this occurs, the ductus arteriosus should permanently close.
In babies with PPHN, this step does not occur. The ductus arteriosus remains open, so the baby’s blood flow bypasses the lungs, leaving the blood lacking oxygen.
Autism and Effexor
An article published in The Archives of General Psychiatry in July 2011 suggested a correlation between mothers who took antidepressants during their first trimester of pregnancy and an increased risk of their newborn being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
Autism spectrum disorder is a complex developmental disability that causes children to have trouble communicating and interacting with others. It can include different types of disorders including autistic disorder (or “classic” autism), Asperger syndrome or pervasive developmental disorder.
Children with an autism spectrum disorder may not respond to their name within the first 12 months, not point at objects, not play “pretend” games, avoid eye contact and want to be alone, have trouble understanding others, have delayed speech and language skills, repeat words or phrases over and over, give unrelated answers to questions, get upset by minor changes, have obsessive interests or have unusual reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, looks or textures.
Abdominal and Cranial Birth Defects
Information released by the National Birth Defects Prevention Study of Infants suggests a link between antidepressant therapy, particularly SSRIs, and risks of congenital abnormalities called Omphalocele and Craniosynostosis.
Omphalocele is a birth defect in the abdominal wall where organs — including the intestines and live — form on the outside of the body. When this occurs, the organs are contained in a small, thin sac close to the navel.
Craniosynostosis is a malformation of the skull. It is characterized by sutures that close earlier than they should, leading to an abnormally shaped head.
Is there a time limit in filing a Effexor birth defects lawsuit?
Although we encourage all our potential clients to take great care in selecting their Effexor 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 Effexor birth defects lawsuit and look forward to speaking with you.
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