Paxil, Prozac, Lexapro and other antidepressants from the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class have been linked to a severe congenital abnormality known as ventricular septal defects. VSDs involve one or more holes in the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles), which force the organ to work harder than necessary to perform its duties. Ventricular septal defects are serious heart problems, and can be fatal if not treated in a timely manner.

Ventricular Septal Defects Lawsuit Review: If you or somebody you know has a child who has been diagnosed with a ventricular septal defect after being exposed to antidepressants 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 ventricular septal defects?

Some of the most commonly reported birth defects associated with the maternal use of antidepressants deal with the heart and include cardiac, atrial, and ventricular septal defects. In July 2006, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a press release warning the public about the risk of heart defects in babies whose mothers used antidepressants during pregnancy. Scientific studies show that women who use SSRIs while pregnant are at least twice as likely to give birth to a child with a ventricular septal defect.

The following antidepressants have been linked to VSDs in babies born to mothers who used the drugs during pregnancy (especially during the first trimester, a time when many women are still unaware they are pregnant):

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

Ventricular Septal Defect Overview

A ventricular septal defect is a rare congenital abnormality in which there is a hole in the wall between the right and left ventricles of the heart. The ventricles are the heart’s two lower pumping chambers, and the wall between them is called the septum. A hole in the septum is called a septal defect.

Normally, unoxygenated (blue) blood returns from the body to the right half of the heart. It travels from the right atrium down into the right ventricle, where it is pumped to the lungs to be oxygenated. Upon leaving the lungs, the blood returns to the left side of the heart, after which it is pumped out to the rest of the body.

In babies born with ventricular septal defects, however, oxygen-rich (red) blood passes from the left ventricle through the opening in the septum, and mixes with oxygen-poor blood in the right ventricle. This forces the heart to work harder and places a great deal of pressure on the lungs. If left untreated, VSDs can cause pulmonary hypertension, which can lead to lung disease and/or a serious illness called bacterial endocarditis.

Signs & Symptoms of Ventricular Septal Defects

Telltale signs and symptoms of antidepressant-induced VSDs typically appear shortly after birth, and may include:

  • A bluish tint to the skin, lips and fingernails (cyanosis)
  • Poor feeding
  • Failure to thrive
  • Fast breathing or breathlessness
  • Easy tiring
  • Swelling of legs, feet or abdomen
  • Rapid heart rate


Ventricular septal defects are typically identified by the characteristic heart murmur that often accompanies the condition. The murmur is generated by abnormally turbulent blood flow through the heart, and is the result of blood being shunted through the defect from the higher-pressure left ventricle into the lower pressure right ventricle. At birth, this pressure imbalance is minimal, so noticeable heart murmurs may not manifest themselves for some time afterwards.

The evaluation of a ventricular septal defect is designed both to confirm the diagnosis as well as to check for other anatomical defects in the heart. Such an evaluation usually begins with an electrocardiogram (EKG) and/or chest X-ray. An echocardiogram may also be used to define the anatomy and evaluate the characteristics of the defect. With recent advances in echocardiography, cardiac catheterization is rarely required anymore.

Do Ventricular Septal Defects always require treatment?

In cases of small ventricular septal defects, the hole may close on its own within the first year of life and will not require any additional treatment other than careful monitoring. For medium to large defects, the spontaneous closure rate is between 5 and 10%. If the defect has not closed by age 10, spontaneous closure is not likely to occur.

Adults with ventricular septal defects without any symptoms may not require surgical intervention, but should have regular checkups with a doctor who specializes in congenital heart disease. Although the defect may not be causing any symptoms, adults with unrepaired ventricular septal defects still have a higher than normal risk for heart valve problems and endocarditis.

If ventricular septal defects are expected to resolve themselves spontaneously, symptomatic medical treatment may be attempted. Frequent measurement of pulmonary pressure should be performed to monitor the patient’s condition. Moderate to large defects that are not expected to close by themselves should be corrected surgically.

Is there a time limit in filing a ventricular septal defect lawsuit?

Although we encourage all our potential clients to take great care in selecting their ventricular septal defect 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 ventricular septal defects lawsuit and look forward to speaking with you.

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