The maternal use of certain prescription drugs during pregnancy has been linked to hand malformation birth defects. Deformations such as syndactyly, polydactyly and brachydactyly have been increasingly reported in babies born to mothers who took antidepressants or epilepsy drugs while pregnant. If your child or other loved one was born with a hand malformation birth defect after being exposed to a prescription medication in the womb, contact the Defective Drug Lawyers at Schmidt & Clark, LLP immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit and we can help.

Hand Malformation Suit Review: If you or somebody you know has a child who was born with a hand malformation related to the exposure of a prescription drug, 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 associated with hand malformations?

A number of popular pharmaceutical medicines have proven to increase the risk of birth defects like hand malformations. Most of these drugs are not tested on pregnant women due to the potential risks to the newborn, but are still prescribed to huge numbers of expecting mothers. The following drugs have been linked to hand malformation birth defects:

    • Paxil (paroxetine)
    • Zoloft (sertraline)
    • Celexa (citalopram)
    • Prozac (fluoxetine)
    • Lexapro (escitalopram)
    • Symbyax (fluoxetine and olanzapine)
    • Wellbutrin (bupropion)
    • Effexor (venlafaxine)
    • Depakote (Divalproex Sodium)
    • Depakote CP
    • Depakote ER
    • Depakene (valproic acid)
    • Depacon (valproate sodium injection)

Normal Development of the Hands

In a developing fetus, the limb buds become visible at around seven weeks of gestation. By eight weeks, the distal limb buds flatten to become hand and foot plates, although the development of the lower limbs is approximately two days behind that of the upper limbs. Sometime during the ninth week, the limb rotates 90 degrees so that the posterior surface of the thumb lies laterally and the anterior surface of the great toe lies medially. The primary ossification centers of the long bones are present by the 12th week, and additional bone formation occurs gradually from the diaphysis of the bone outward toward the end of each long bone. However, if antidepressant medications are taken by an expecting mother during pregnancy – particularly in the first trimester – the drugs can interrupt the normal fetal growth process and cause hand malformations in their unborn babies before they are even aware that they are pregnant.

Hand Malformation Overview

Congenital hand malformations exhibit a wide range of manifestations, and may occur alone or as part of a syndrome. The defects are relatively rare, but due to their overall frequency and severity, they are of particular clinical relevance. In recent years, mounting research and numerous case studies have determined a statistically significant association between congenital hand malformations and the maternal use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs during pregnancy. Commonly occurring types of hand malformations include:

  • failure of formation
  • undergrowth
  • overgrowth
  • duplication
  • constriction band syndrome
  • syndactyly (webbed fingers)
  • polydactyly (extra fingers)
  • brachydactyly (clubbed thumb)
  • macrodactyly (abnormally large fingers)
  • radial and ulnar club malformations
  • trigger fingers
  • crooked fingers
  • absent thumb
  • short fingers
  • missing fingers

Of all these defects, syndactyly is the most commonly found hand formation, occurring in approximately in 1 in 2000 to 3000 live births. The condition is characterized by the fusion of two fingers, whose severity can range from the fusion of just the skin tissue to the fusion of bones and tissue. Syndactyly can be classified as ‘simple’ when it involves soft tissues only and ‘complex’ when it involves the bone or nail of adjacent fingers. It is a shared feature of more than 28 syndromes, including Poland, Apert, and Holt-Oram syndromes. Syndactyly typically occurs during the sixth and eight weeks of embryonic development.

Treating Hand Malformations

Plastic surgery can correct many of these deformities relatively easily. However, in severe cases plastic surgery can provide only a small measure of functional capacity. An example of functional restoration is microvascular toe-to-hand tissue transfer, which is designed to correct hypoplastic or aplastic fingers. In this case, the emphasis is on restoring function rather than aesthetic appearance.

Depending on the type and severity of the defect, any number of surgical procedures may be required to completely repair the condition. In addition to plastic surgery, other popular treatment methods include skin grafts, repairs to the tendon and nerves, and skin flap procedures. If hand malformations are not treated in a timely manner, the child may struggle with everyday tasks like grabbing objects and playing with toys.

Hand Malformation Outlook (Prognosis)

The outcome of hand malformation surgical repair is typically very good. Most patients are quite satisfied with the results, and can regain nearly all of their hand movement and function back. Like most cosmetic and reconstructive procedures, surgeries to repair hand deformities have a good success rate when performed by experienced and qualified surgeons. The goal of surgery is not only to improve the function of the hands, but to approve their appearance as well.

Is there a time limit in filing a hand malformation birth defects lawsuit?

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


Attention Lawyers:  Schmidt & Clark, LLP considers a referral from another lawyer to be one of the greatest compliments. Our law firm has built a reputation for success and accepts a number of case referrals on a regular basis. We do not publish prior verdicts or settlements on our website. If you would like to refer us a case or for us to send you a profile of prior award judgments or average referral fees, please fill out the form below.