Babies born to mothers who took certain prescription medications during pregnancy have had severe birth defects, including life-threatening heart defects such as hypoplastic right heart syndrome (HRHS). Babies born with HRHS have right ventricle deformities and will require several heart-bypass surgeries. If untreated, the condition will lead to heart failure and death. Drugs linked to hypoplastic right heart syndrome include antidepressants such as Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft, as well as epilepsy medications like Depakote and Depakene.
Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome Lawsuit Review: If you or somebody you know has a child who has been diagnosed with hypoplastic right heart syndrome after being exposed to prescription drugs 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 hypoplastic right heart syndrome?
FDA studies have shown that women who are taking antidepressants or anti-epileptic drugs during pregnancy — and also up to a year before pregnancy — have an increased chance of having a baby with severe birth defects.
The following drugs may cause life-threatening birth defects, such as hypoplastic right heart syndrome:
- 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
- Depacon (valproate sodium injection)
Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome Overview
Hypoplastic right heart syndrome (HRHS) occurs when parts of the right side of the heart do not develop completely. The condition is congenital (present at birth). It is more rare than Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. Usually, babies born with HRHS have a right ventricle that is smaller or impaired, and thus unable to pump enough oxygenated blood through the body.
Specific Malformations associated with HRHS are most often:
- Tricuspid atresia: When the tricuspid heart valve is missing or abnormally formed, it blocks the blood flow from the right atrium to the right ventricle.
- Pulmonary valve stenosis: A heart valve disorder that involves the pulmonary valve, which separates the right ventricle of the heart and the pulmonary artery. The pulmonary artery carries oxygen-poor blood to the lungs. Stenosis occurs when the valve is too narrow, resulting in less blood flowing to the lungs.
- Pulmonary valve atresia: A heart valve disorder, when a solid wall of tissue forms where the valve opening should be, and the valve remains closed — thus preventing blood from the right side of the heart going to the lungs to receive oxygen.
- Mitral valve prolapse: This is a complication of other effects of HRHS, in which the valve that separates the upper and lower chambers of the left side of the heart does not close properly.
Signs & Symptoms of Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome
HRHS is often diagnosed in utero, before the baby is born, by doctors who perform careful two-dimensional echocardiographic examinations. They will listen for a “murmur” caused by uneven beating of the heart. If HRHS is not diagnosed before the baby is born, symptoms start to appear immediately after birth. While the baby is in the womb, these heart defects are not life-threatening, because the baby receives oxygenated blood from its mother. However, within two days after birth, the heart will be unable to pump enough oxygenated blood through the baby’s body.
The earliest signs are difficulty breathing and a bluish hue that appears on the skin, lips, and other parts of the body. The condition will become worse over time, and if left untreated, will cause death.
Treatment & Prognosis
If Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome is diagnosed before a baby is born, the mother will be referred to a hospital with a pediatric cardiology and surgical team. This may require that the mother arrange to give birth at a hospital where this team is located. Once the baby is born, the baby will undergo the following treatment:
Congenital right ventricle deformities such as HRHS can’t be fixed. Treatment involves several surgeries (together, called the “Fontan procedure”) that, ultimately, will bypass the right ventricle entirely.
When the baby is a few days old, the surgeons will undergo a temporary shunt, called the Blalock-Taussig shunt, which prevents the Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) from closing. The PDA is an opening that is present at birth, but normally closes within the first few days of a baby’s life. This opening allows a small amount of oxygenated blood to get into the left atrium, thus mixing with the oxygenated blood, and being pumped through the body.
When the baby is about three months old, it will undergo the Glenn shunt. This surgery involves taking the super vena cava and attaching it to the pulmonary artery. The benefit of using the Glenn shunt is that it can be performed early on children. This procedure precedes the full Fontan procedure, which usually does not occur until the child is two years old. In the Fontan procedure, the right atrium of the heart is attached to the pulmonary artery, thus bypassing the right ventricle entirely.
Children with HRHS who undergo this surgery are expected to live 15-30 years before needing a heart transplant.
Is there a time limit in filing a hypoplastic right heart syndrome birth defects lawsuit?
Although we encourage all our potential clients to take great care in selecting their hypoplastic right heart syndrome 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 hypoplastic right heart syndrome 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.