Medical research has shown that children born to women who took SSRIs during pregnancy are born with birth defects at a much higher rate than the general population. Some researchers have found that this risk can be up to three times the normal chance of a birth defect. As a result, families have filed lawsuits against Forest Laboratories, the maker of the drug.
Lexapro Is a Popular SSRI That Pregnant Women Sometimes Take
SSRIs are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. They are used to treat moderate-to-severe depression. They help the patient by increasing serotonin in the brain. Serotonin are neurotransmitters that transmit messages between nerve cells in the brain. Lexapro is one of the most popular SSRIs and is the brand name for the drug escitalopram.
Some doctors will counsel their patients not to take these antidepressants during pregnancy because of the risk of injury to the baby. However, other doctors will let their patients continue on these drugs. When this happens, the drug can pass through to the developing fetus through the placenta, placing the baby at risk.
Birth Defects that Have Been Linked to Lexapro
When it comes to Lexapro, here are the birth defects that are tied to the use of this drug during pregnancy:
- Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of Newborns – Infants are not able to breathe on their own outside the womb because of a defect in their heart and lungs. This defect often requires critical intensive care and could result in death. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the risk of this birth defect increased six-fold from Lexapro.
- Cleft Palette – Part of the mouth does not properly fuse when the baby is in the womb, leaving a gap in the upper lift that requires surgery. This could lead to lifelong breathing and speech problems.
- Heart Defects – Research has shown that babies born from mothers who took Lexapro have double the usual rate of heart defects.
- Neural Tube Defects – Babies are born missing large parts of their brain or skulls
Pharmaceutical Companies Can Be Liable if Their Products Cause Harm
Here, the drugmakers can be held liable if the medication is designed in a defective way that causes injury. They may also be required to pay if they failed to properly warn mothers of the dangers of birth defects if they took the medication during pregnancy. Forest Laboratories has already settled numerous lawsuits that alleged that Lexapro caused an increased risk of suicides in teenagers taking the drug after the company was fined hundreds of millions of dollars for marketing unapproved drugs for teenagers with depression.
Most of the Lexapro birth defect lawsuits filed so far are in state courts throughout the country. At this point, we are still waiting for the initial cases to go to trial.
Contact a Florida Product Liability Lawyer
If you have taken Lexapro during pregnancy and your child was born with a birth defect, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Damages from birth defects can be considerable, and the responsible party could be ordered to pay. Call Ged Lawyers LLP at (561) 995-1966 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.