Zoloft Birth Defect Lawyer

Zoloft, also known as sertraline, is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.  It is in the same class of drugs as Paxil, Celex, Lexapro, and Prozac.  Babies who were exposed to Zoloft in utero may be at an increased risk of developing severe birth defects.  These birth defects include heart defects, lung defects (persistent pulmonary hypertension in the newborn, or PPHN), skull defects (craniosynostosis), abdominal defects (omphalocele), neural tube defects (spina bifida, anencephaly), and others.

Zoloft was introduced onto the market in 1991 by Pfizer.  Paxil is a pregnancy “category D” drug, while Zoloft is still only a “category C” drug.  A category D drug means that there is positive evidence of fetal risk in humans. GlaxoSmithKline was required to change the pregnancy category of Paxil from C to D in 2006.  Even though Zoloft is in the same class of antidepressants, the FDA has allowed Pfizer to keep Zoloft as a “category C” medication.

Zoloft, like Paxil, Celexa, Prozac, and Lexapro, works by preventing certain receptors in the brain from absorbing serotonin neurotransmitters, thus, increasing the level of serotonin neurotransmitters between nerve cells in the brain.  This effect allegedly improves the mood of the person ingesting the drug.

In 2005 the FDA warned about the use of some antidepressants during the first trimester and the increased risk of heart defects. ( read more here )

This warning was issued based on the following test scientific study results:

  • A Swedish study found that women who received paroxetine (an SSRI) in early pregnancy had an approximately 2-fold increased risk for having an infant with a cardiac defect compared to the entire national registry population (the risk of a cardiac defect was about 2% in paroxetine-exposed infants vs. 1% among all registry infants).
  • Based on data from a United States insurance claims database, infants of women who received paroxetine (an SSRI) in the first trimester had a 1.5-fold increased risk for cardiac malformations and a 1.8-fold increased risk for congenital malformations overall compared to infants of women who received other antidepressants in the first trimester.  The risk of a cardiac defect was about 1.5% in paroxetine-exposed infants vs. 1% among infants exposed to other antidepressants.

In February 2006, the New England Journal of Medicine published a scientific article by author Christina D. Chambers, Ph.D., M.P.H.  In this abstract, the authors opined that there was a six (6)-fold increased risk of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of a Newborn (PPHN) in children exposed to SSRIs, like Paxil, Zoloft, Lexapro, Prozac and Celexa in utero.

Dr. Chambers’ abstract about the increased risk of PPHN in babies exposed to SSRIs in utero motivated the FDA to issue a Public Health Advisory on July 19, 2006, entitled: Treatment Challenges of Depression in Pregnancy and the Possibility of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension in Newborns. ( read more here )

This antidepressant birth defect warning came almost twenty years after Zoloft had been on the market.

About one year later, in June 2007, Dr. Carol Louik, Sc.D., published a scientific article in the New England Journal of Medicine. ( read the article here)

The article was titled: First-Trimester Use of Selective Serotonin-Reuptake Inhibitors. Among other findings, this article found a significant association between the use of sertraline (Zoloft) and ompahlocle and septal defect (heart defects).

Additionally, like Paxil, Zoloft has been linked to the following birth defects:

  • Congenital heart defect
  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN)
  • Spina bifida
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Omphalocele
  • Cleft lip and / or cleft palate
  • Club foot
  • Anencephaly
  • Anal atresia

Contact an Attorney Today.

The attorneys at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP have worked with the families of hundreds of babies all over the country who were born with birth defects.  Mothers who took antidepressants during pregnancy were left in the dark by the pharmaceutical companies about the increased risk of their children being born with birth defects.  Call us today to determine if your child qualifies for financial compensation for his or her birth defect.