Mental retardation is a medical term characterized by lower than average cognitive function and difficulties with communicating, reading and writing. If you took antidepressant drugs during pregnancy and your child is showing signs of mental retardation, it is important to seek medical assistance immediately. The sooner your child is diagnosed, the better for their long-term outlook and quality of life.

Mental Retardation Lawsuit Review: If you or somebody you know has a child who has been diagnosed with any type of mental retardation after being exposed to antidepressant medications 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 mental retardation?

Did you know that one in 10 women suffer from depression during pregnancy? While this statistic may seem shockingly high, the side effects of medications given to treat the depression in these women can make things even worse for themselves as well as their unborn children. The problem is that many times expecting mothers are prescribed antidepressant drugs that can have severe side effects such as mental retardation on unborn children.

A commonly prescribed group of antidepressants is known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. Examples of SSRIs include:

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

How is Mental Retardation Defined?

Children are born surrounded by their parent’s dreams of the future. Most parents watch their children progress and learn with each day, week, and month bringing new abilities. The child with mental retardation, however, will begin to fall behind at some point.

Mental retardation (MR) is a generalized congenital birth defect characterized by significantly impaired cognitive functioning and deficits in two or more adaptive behaviors. The condition has been historically defined as an intelligence quotient (IQ) score of under 70, but has since come to include a component relating to mental functioning as well as an individual’s ability to navigate in their environment. Onset is prior to age 18, and has three levels:

  • Mild mental retardation: IQ between 50-55 to 70
  • Moderate mental retardation: IQ between 35-40 to 50-55
  • Profound mental retardation: IQ below 20-25

Additionally, there are currently a number of specific and distinct types of mental retardation recognized by the medical community:

  • Syndromic mental retardation: Characterized by intellectual deficits associated with additional medical and behavioral signs and symptoms.
  • Non-syndromic mental retardation: Refers to the classic view of mental retardation as characterized by intellectual deficits that appear without other abnormalities.
  • Down syndrome: Chromosomal abnormality caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 21st chromosome. The vast majority of cases of DS result from trisomy 21, which means that each cell in the body has three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the usual two copies.
  • Phenylketonuria (PKU): Rare condition in which a baby is born without the ability to properly break down an amino acid called phenylalanine. PKU usually becomes apparent between 6 and 12 months after birth, although such symptoms as vomiting, a peculiar odor, infantile eczema (a skin disorder in infants), and seizures (fits) may become apparent during the early weeks of life.
  • Cretinism (thyroid deficiency): Severely stunted physical and mental growth due to untreated congenital deficiency of thyroid hormones, usually caused by maternal hypothyroidism. Cretinism arises from a diet deficient in iodine, which is an essential trace element, necessary for the synthesis of thyroid hormones.
  • Cranial anomalies: MR has been linked to a number of conditions in which there are relatively gross alterations in head size and shape, and where the causal factors have not been definitely established.
  • Microcephaly: Where the circumference of the head is smaller than normal because the brain has not developed properly or has stopped growing. Microcephaly can be present at birth or it may develop in the first few years of life.
  • Hydrocephalus (‘water on the brain’): buildup of fluid inside the skull, leading to brain swelling. Hydrocephalus is due to a problem with the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the liquid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

Signs & Symptoms of Mental Retardation

According to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (formerly called the American Association of Mental Retardation), signs and symptoms of mental retardation include:

  • severe delays of cognitive, communication, social, adaptive, physical, fine and gross motor development, and behavioral skills beginning in infancy or early adulthood;
  • significantly below average scores on academic, communication, and intelligence assessments, typically two standard deviations below the mean or average on standardized, non-referenced assessment;
  • test scores at or below the 2nd percentile compared to same age peers;
  • significant limitations in two or more adaptive skill areas.

Children with mental retardation may:

  • sit up, crawl, or walk later than other children;
  • learn to talk later, or have trouble speaking;
  • find it hard to remember things;
  • not understand how to pay for things;
  • have trouble understanding social rules;
  • have trouble seeing the consequences of their actions;
  • have trouble solving problems;
  • have trouble thinking logically.

Diagnosis of Mental Retardation

A positive diagnosis of mental retardation can be made using developmental screening tests. The failure to achieve developmental milestones suggests that the child may have some degree of mental retardation. The following may be indicators of MR:

  • Abnormal Denver developmental screening test
  • Adaptive behavior score below average
  • Development way below that of peers
  • Intelligence quotient (IQ) score below 70 on a standardized IQ test

Is there a time limit in filing a mental retardation lawsuit?

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

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