Lexapro (generic: escitalopram) is an antidepressant belonging to the SSRI group. While it is commonly prescribed to treat major depression, it may also cause birth defects in babies born to mothers who took the medication during pregnancy, especially during the last three months. In particular, SSRIs including Lexapro have been linked to persistent pulmonary hypertension, congenital heart defects and autism.
Lexapro Birth Defects Lawsuit Review: If you or somebody you know has a child that has been diagnosed with a birth defect related to Lexapro, 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 Lexapro?
The lawyers at our firm are currently taking Lexapro cases associated with these birth defects:
- 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
Manufactured by Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Lexapro was FDA approved on August 14, 2002 as an antidepressant. Lexapro belongs to a group of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs.
SSRIs are used to treat major depressive disorder and other forms of anxiety disorders in adults and adolescents over the age of 12. They work by stabilizing the amount of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a naturally-occurring substance that helps to control mood. Patients suffering from depression have lower levels of serotonin. By limiting the amount of serotonin that gets reabsorbed, SSRIs increase the amount of serotonin that remains in the brain, leading to increased feelings of happiness.
Yet, the benefits of SSRI therapy during pregnancy should be weighed against the risks. While one FDA study suggests women who stop taking their SSRI antidepressants are more likely to suffer from a recurrence of depression, another study suggests children born to mothers who use it during pregnancy may suffer from increased risks of persistent pulmonary hypertension, congenital heart defects, and autism spectrum disorder.
The FDA has labeled Lexapro as a Category C drug, meaning animal studies have revealed adverse events in fetal and postnatal development.
Due to the severity of the birth defects associated with Lexapro, you or someone you know may want to contact one of our Lexapro birth defect lawyers or attorneys to discuss the potential of a Lexapro birth defects lawsuit.
Lexapro, the FDA and Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension
On July 19, 2006, the FDA released a Public Health Advisory notifying patients and doctors about the potential risks and benefits of SSRI therapy during pregnancy.
The FDA cited one study where pregnant mothers who had been using SSRI therapy before pregnancy stopped taking their medication during pregnancy. The study, published in the February 1, 2006 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found these women were five times more likely to have a relapse of depression during pregnancy.
The second study, published on February 9, 2006 in The New England Journal of Medicine, suggested that babies whose mothers took SSRI antidepressants after the 20th week of pregnancy were six times more likely to develop persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN). This is a serious life-threatening lung condition, where lung blood vessels are not able to get enough oxygen into the bloodstream. It usually occurs in about 1 or 2 babies per 1,000 in the U.S. Often, they need intensive medical care.
As the FDA advisory stated:
“The finding of PPHN in babies of mothers who used a SSRI antidepressant in the second half of pregnancy adds to concerns coming from previous reports that infants of mothers taking SSRIs late in pregnancy may experience difficulties such as irritability, difficulty feeding and in very rare cases, difficult breathing.”
The FDA also referenced a 2005 change to the label of SSRI medication Paxil (paroxetine) because studies suggest exposure to the drug in the first trimester of pregnancy may be associated with an increased risk of congenital heart defects.
The congenital heart defects most commonly associated with Paxil and other SSRIs are atrial and ventricular septal defects. These defects occur in the wall between the left and right sides of the heart. This wall is known as the septum. In septal defects, there are holes in the wall that cause blood to flow from the right side or the left side, or vice versa, when it should not. It can lead to serious conditions like a heart murmur, pulmonary congestion and cyanosis (blue discoloration of the skin).
Lexapro and Autism
There may be an increased risk between babies born to mothers who used SSRI therapy during pregnancy and the occurrence of autism spectrum disorder. A July 2011 article published in The Archives of General Psychiatry found that women who took SSRI antidepressants, particularly during the first trimester, were twice as likely to give birth to a child with autism.
While there are different forms of autism, it is usually characterized by a child’s difficulty in communicating and interacting with others.
Signs of autism include:
- Problems communicating verbally
- Problems communicating non-verbally (unspoken communication which includes eye contact, pointing and smiling)
- Problems socializing (sharing emotions, understanding how other think or feel)
- Routines or repetitive behaviors (repeating words or actions, obsessive following routines)
Other Members of the SSRI Drug Class
The following drugs are also SSRIs and may pose serious risks to babies born to mothers who use them during pregnancy:
- Sarafem (fluoxetine)
- Prozac (fluoxetine)
- Luvox (fluvoxamine)
- Pexeva (paroxetine)
- Celexa (citalopram)
- Zoloft (sertraline)
- Paxil (paroxetine)
- Selfemra (fluoxetine)
- Rapiflux (fluoxetine)
Is there a time limit in filing a Lexapro birth defects lawsuit?
Although we encourage all our potential clients to take great care in selecting their Lexapro 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 Lexapro birth defects lawsuit and look forward to speaking with you.
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