Over the last several years, a great deal of information has surfaced regarding the maternal use of antidepressant drugs during pregnancy and an increased risk of esophageal stenosis birth defects. Esophageal stenosis occurs when the tube that carries food, liquids and saliva from your mouth to the stomach gradually narrows, which can lead to problems with breathing and swallowing. At Schmidt & Clark, LLP, we are currently investigating potential cases on behalf of families nationwide whose infants were harmed by antidepressant side effects.

Esophageal Stenosis Suit Review: If you or somebody you know has a child who has been diagnosed with esophageal stenosis 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 drugs have been linked to esophageal stenosis?

The following antidepressants have been linked to the development of esophageal stenosis in newborn babies, infants, and children if their mothers took the drugs 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)

Esophageal Stenosis Overview

The esophagus is a muscular tube that connects the throat with the stomach. After food enters the esophagus, muscles in front and behind the food contract and relax in a rhythmic sequence in order to force it along toward the stomach. Esophageal stenosis occurs when there is an uncharacteristic narrowing of the tube. When the esophagus gets damaged, scar tissue begins to manifest itself in a constricting manor, to the point where nutritional intake is restricted.

Varieties of esophageal stenosis have been classified histologically as follows:

  • Group I – Tracheobronchial rests (cartilage, respiratory mucus glands, ciliated epithelium)
  • Group II – Membranous diaphragm
  • Group III – Fibromuscular stenosis

In adults, the causes of esophageal stenosis are typically related to acid reflux disease and other digestive issues. In children, however, the condition is most often a form of congenital birth defect known as esophageal atresia. In most types of esophageal atresia, the esophagus ends before reaching the stomach.

Symptoms of Esophageal Stenosis

Signs and symptoms of esophageal stenosis are usually similar to those of gastrosophageal reflux disease (GERD). Heartburn, the most common symptom of GERD, may also be present in esophageal stricture. Other symptoms of esophageal stenosis may include:

  • difficulty in swallowing
  • food “gets stuck” in the esophagus
  • uncomfortable swallowing
  • stomach content and acid coming back up from the stomach into the mouth
  • choking, coughing, or shortness of breath
  • vomiting blood
  • weight loss
  • bitter or acid taste in the mouth
  • black, tarry bowel movements


A definitive diagnosis of esophageal stenosis can be made by one of the following tests:

  • Computerized Tomography Scan (CT Scan): A special X-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of the patient’s esophagus and other organs. The thickness of the stricture may also be measured using a CT scan.
  • Endoscopy: This test uses a scope to see the inside of the patient’s digestive tract. During the endoscopy procedure, doctors may find problems with how the individual’s digestive tract is working. Samples may be taken from the digestive tract and sent to a lab for tests. Small tumors may be removed, and bleeding may be treated during the procedure.
  • Barium Swallow: In this procedure, the patient will drink a thick liquid called barium. Barium helps the esophagus and stomach show up better on X-rays.


In most cases, the object of treatment for esophageal stenosis is dilation, where the esophagus is stretched and widened with one of the following techniques:

  • Bougie: Soft rubber or plastic dilators are moved across the esophagus in order to gently open it. The doctor will proceed to increase the size of the dilator accordingly.
  • Guided Wire: A thin wire is placed across the stricture and used to guide increasingly wide dilators over it.
  • Balloons: Can be placed across the stricture and then inflated to open the narrowed area.

In certain cases, proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole, lansoprazole or rabeprazole can keep strictures from returning. Surgical treatment is rarely necessary. However, it may be performed if a stricture can’t be dilated enough to allow solid food to pass through. Surgery is also performed if repeated dilations do not keep strictures from returning. Your child’s doctor will decide which course of treatment is best for his or her particular case of esophageal stenosis.

Is there a time limit in filing an esophageal stenosis lawsuit?

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

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