Zoloft® and Injuries to Babies
The antidepressant Zoloft® (sertraline) has been associated with birth injuries. The newborn of the mother on Zoloft® also can suffer withdrawal symptoms.
In 1979 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established a categorization of drugs according to the risk they posed to the fetus and newborn. This followed by a year a similar categorization plan set up in Sweden.
The FDA classifies prescription drugs from Category A (safe) to Category X (do not use). Zoloft® is classified as a Category C drug. Risks of birth defects cannot be ruled out in drugs in the C category. These medications have been shown to cause birth defects in animal reproduction studies, but no adequate human studies exist to indicate they do.
Injuries to the Developing Fetus
The main birth defects that have been associated with a pregnant mother taking Zoloft® are persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), septal heart defects and omphalocele. Other possible risks include a variety of other heart defects, neural tube defects, head and skull defects and limb abnormalities.
Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN)
This is a condition that affects the function of the lungs and breathing in the newborn. Zoloft® has been associated with PPHN when the mother takes it during the last half of her pregnancy.
The way a fetus gets its oxygen is different from how a newborn receives oxygen from its lungs. While in the womb, the fetal blood circulation bypasses the lungs and receives its oxygen from the mother. After birth, the normal baby's lungs assume this function. When the lungs fail to properly take over this task, PPHN results.
The neonatologist, a specialist in treating newborn babies, directs the treatment of an infant born with PPHN. The infant is treated in a neonatal intensive care unit and put on a ventilator which functions for the baby's lungs. One hundred percent oxygen is delivered through a tube into the baby's trachea, and hopefully the baby's circulation and lungs will take over the proper job of oxygenating the blood and delivering it to the rest of the tissues and organs. PPHN is serious and requires intensive monitoring and treatment.
Septal Heart Defects
The four chambers of the heart are divided from each other by septa (plural of septum) or thin walls. This is sometimes known as a hole in the heart. The two upper chambers of the heart are called the atria, or the filling chambers. When there is an opening in the wall between these two chambers, the baby is said to have an atrial-septal defect.
This defect allows blood that is supposed to flow to the ventricle or pumping chamber, to flow back into the other atria. This blood is not properly oxygenated and is greater in volume than normal. The defect can be located in different areas of the atrial septum and can be different sizes in individual babies. The approach to treating these infants depends upon the location and size of the defect.
This is a condition in which the intestines and sometimes abdominal organs protrude through the baby's bellybutton. In these babies, only a thin layer of tissue lies over the intestines. When the fetus is developing, the muscles in its abdominal wall fail to close correctly. Because of this, the intestines stay outside of the umbilical cord.
Omphaloceles vary in size. Some are small and only the intestines protrude through the belly button, but sometimes they can be large, and the spleen and liver may also stick out.
Omphaloceles are surgically repaired. The contents that are protruding from the abdomen are covered with an artificial material that is stitched around the area. Then, slowly, over time, the contents are pushed back into the abdomen. When the contents can comfortably fit into the abdomen, the artificial material is eliminated and the abdomen is sewn together. Surgery is expected to allow the baby to recover completely from an omphalocele.
Contact a Zoloft® Birth Defect Lawyer
If your baby is born with one of these conditions or another congenital defect and you took Zoloft® during your pregnancy, you should get in touch with a Zoloft® birth defect attorney to find out if you have a claim. You and your baby may be entitled to financial compensation. For more information, contact us today.