Recent studies have linked a number of best-selling antidepressants to a rare congenital birth defect known as encephalocele. This catastrophic condition occurs when part of the developing baby’s skull fails to close completely in utero, resulting in a portion of the infant’s brain protruding through the defect. Antidepressant medications associated with encephalocele include Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, Celexa, Wellbutrin, Symbyax and Effexor.

Encephalocele Lawsuit Review: If you or somebody you know has a child who was born with an encephalocele after being exposed to an antidepressant medication 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 encephalocele?

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants are designed to work by restoring balance to the level of serotonin in the brain, thereby relieving the symptoms of depression and other serious psychological disorders. Unfortunately, according to mounting research and numerous case studies, the following SSRIs have been linked to the development of encephalocele and other serious birth defects when taken by expecting mothers while pregnant:

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

Encephalocele Overview

An encephalocele is a catastrophic congenital birth defect characterized by sac-like protrusions of the brain and the membranes that cover it though openings in the skull. Normally, a baby’s brain and spinal cord develop inside a structure called the neural tube during the first trimester of pregnancy. When the neural tube fails to close as it should, part of the brain may protrude outside the defect, with either skin or a thin membrane covering the portion of the brain that remains outside the skull.

In most cases, encephaloceles are dramatic deformities that are recognized immediately after birth, but occasionally a small encephalocele in the nasal or forehead area may go undetected until later on in life. This defect is also commonly accompanied by craniofacial abnormalities or other brain malformations. Encephaloceles can be located in a number of different areas, including:

  • the base of the skull
  • the area of the nose, sinuses and forehead
  • from the top of the skull around to the back of the skull at the midline

Symptoms of Encephalocele

Signs and symptoms of antidepressant-induced encephalocele may include (but are not limited to):

  • hydrocephalus (excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain)
  • spastic quadriplegia (paralysis of the arms and legs)
  • microcephaly (abnormally small head)
  • ataxia (uncoordinated movement of the voluntary muscles, such as those involved in walking and reaching)
  • developmental delay
  • vision problems
  • mental and growth retardation
  • seizures

Treatment & Prognosis (Outlook)

Surgery to correct encephalocele is typically performed during infancy or soon thereafter, and consists of placing the protruding tissues back into the skull, removing the sac, and correcting the accompanying craniofacial defects. With the help of cutting-edge medical breakthroughs, now even large protrusions can be removed without causing major functional disabilities. Hydrocephalus associated with encephalocele may require treatment with a shunt. Other treatment options are generally symptomatic and supportive in nature.

The long-term outlook for patients with encephaloceles depends on the type of brain tissue involved and the accompanying congenital birth defects. The main overriding factor that influences the prognosis for a baby born with an encephalocele is its location. Defects located in front typically have a near 100% survival rate, while those located towards the back have an approximately 55% survival rate. The most common type of encephalocele reported in the United States is in the back, while the frontal type is most prevalent in Southeast Asia. Approximately 13 to 44% of babies born with an encephalocele have an accompanying chromosomal abnormality, and roughly 75% of babies who survive will have some degree of mental deficiency.

Is there a time limit in filing an encephalocele lawsuit?

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


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