Pulmonary Atresia (Pulmonary Valve Defect)
Pulmonary atresia is a serious heart defect that has been linked to use of Zoloft® (sertraline) and other SSRI drugs during pregnancy. The pulmonary valve is an opening on the right side of the heart that regulates blood flow from the right ventricle the lungs. In pulmonary atresia, a solid sheet of tissue forms where the valve opening should be, and the valve remains closed. Pulmonary atresia is usually found in conjunction with ventral septal defects, an underdeveloped tricuspid valve and a hypoplastic right ventricle.
Symptoms and Complications
Babies born with pulmonary atresia will show symptoms immediately, including cyanosis, which is bluish tint to the skin. Other symptoms include rapid breathing, shortness of breath, fatigue, and nursing problems. Complications of pulmonary atresia and related birth defects can include:
- Delayed growth and development
- Congestive heart failure
Treatment and Diagnosis
Your doctor will likely suspect a heart birth defect as soon as he/she uses a stethoscope to listen to the heart and lungs. Pulmonary atresia usually causes a heart murmur which can be detected by a stethoscope. Identifying a heart murmur will lead to further testing, such as:
- Chest x-rays
- Echocardiogram, using sound waves to produce a video image of the heart, allowing the detection of abnormalities
- Electrocardiogram, using electrode sensors on the chest to monitor electrical activity in the heart, which can determine rhythm problems and defects
- Heart catheterization, inserting a tube into the heart through a blood vessel, and checking the structure for weakness and defects
Treatment will begin immediately after the birth defect is diagnosed. Since the closed valve prevents the heart from pumping blood into the lungs to pick up oxygen, the blood has to get to the lungs by another route. Commonly, a medicine called prostaglandin E1 is used to keep a blood vessel called the patent ductus arteriosus open, giving blood a route between the pulmonary artery and aorta.
Subsequent procedures include repairing or replacing the valve and implanting shunts or stents, either via catheter or open-heart surgery. Some cases may require rebuilding the heart with a single ventricle, or heart transplantation.
Talk to a Zoloft® Birth Defect Lawyer
If your baby is suffering from a congenital heart defect and you were prescribed Zoloft® during your pregnancy, our birth defect lawyers may be able to help you obtain financial compensation for your child's injuries. To learn more about your rights and legal options, please contact us to schedule a free and private consultation to review your case.