Antidepressants Cause Heart Defects in Chicago and Illinois Newborns

The Illinois Department of Health shows that cardiac health defects are the highest type of birth defects affecting children in Chicago and the state. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recently published two studies showing that mothers who took the antidepressant drug Paxil were more likely to have a child with a heart defect. FDA classifies the drug as Category D, indicating positive evidence of fetal risk. When expecting mothers take Paxil within the first trimester, their baby is one and a half to two times more likely to have a heart defect. These cardiac defects include ventricular septal defects (VSDs) and atrial septal defects (ASDs).

VSDs are abnormal openings in the wall between the heart’s two lower pumping chambers, known as the ventricles. Sometimes these holes close on their own; otherwise, surgery is required to ensure that serious and sometimes life-threatening heart and lung problems do not occur. ASDs are abnormal openings in the wall between the heart’s two upper chambers, known as the atria. Like VSDs, ASDs sometimes close over time; but for significant defects, surgery is necessary so that heart complications and lung problems do not occur. Research by the Mayo Clinic shows that sometimes these defects are not apparent until adulthood, and then all of sudden a person can experience high blood pressure or even heart failure.

Paxil is not the only antidepressant of concern for expecting mothers. Other antidepressants such as Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Symbyax, and Zoloft have been linked to cardiac defects too. These selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed drugs to combat depression, says the FDA. SSRIs also can cause persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN). The FDA found that PPHN is six times more likely to occur in a newborn if the mother took the antidepressant after the 20th week of pregnancy. Babies also had a higher rate of irritability, difficulty feeding, and in some rare cases, difficulty breathing.

The FDA recommends that expecting mothers talk to their doctor about their use of antidepressants to determine if it is medically necessary to continue during pregnancy. Unfortunately, many expecting mothers who are taking SSRIs and antidepressant drugs are not told of the serious side effects posed by these drugs. When a child is born with a cardiac defect, sometimes the only remedy to help your child is to seek legal counsel to explore the available options.

Thousands of children are affected each year in Chicago and Illinois by heart defects. Parents are recommended to call a qualified Chicago birth injury lawyer to represent them and their newborn. Chicago birth injury attorney Robert I. Briskman, Esq. provides unparalleled personal attention and dedication to resolve the challenging situation of your child’s birth injury. At Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, their highly skilled lawyers have decades of trial experience and access to a world-class team of experts to get the compensation your child deserves for his or her past, present, and future medical needs.

Robert Briskman is a Chicago birth injury lawyer and Chicago birth injury attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

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