SSRI Birth Defect Lawsuit

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) are the most frequently prescribed category of antidepressants that have been developed over the past 20 years.

Although commonly used as an antidepressant, SSRIs are also used to treat various types of mood disorders, including but not limited to:

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Depression

According to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics to rate of antidepressant use in the United States among teens and adults has increased by more than 300% since the late 80s and early 90s. It is estimated that 1 in 10 Americans takes an antidepressant. Furthermore, women are 2.5 times more likely to be taking an antidepressant than men.

Mood disorders are also one of the most frequently diagnosed issues among social security disability beneficiaries. According to the Centers for Disease Control, between 8 and 9 percent of Georgia residents meet the criteria for depression. Additionally, between 9 and 10 percent of South Carolina residents meet the criteria for depression.

Although there are many side-effects to using SSRIs, some manufacturers have failed to warn pregnant women of the effects the drugs can have on their child.


Types of SSRIs

SSRI’s work by boosting serotonin in the brain. Also known as a neurotransmitter the primary function of serotonin is mood regulation, low serotonin levels are linked to depression and anxiety; a boost of serotonin has proved to be effective in mood regulation.

SSRIs are referred to as “selective” because they have a minimal impact on the other neurotransmitters in the brain thus giving them a therapeutic advantage over previous antidepressants.

Some common SSRI’s include:

  • Paxil
  • Zoloft
  • Celexa
  • Lexapro
  • Prozac
  • Cymbalta

SSRI Side Effects

In 2006 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health warning requiring SSRI medication warning labels to be strengthened in order to warn patients of the potential dangers.

In 2012 the Food and Drug Administration released a safety announcement updating the public on the use of SSRIs by women during pregnancy. The FDA warned that there have been conflicting studies in the risk pregnant women face while taking an SSRI.

However, a case-controlled study from 2006 found that who took an SSRI after the 20th week of pregnancy were 6 times more likely to have persistent pulmonary hypertension than infants born to mothers who did not take the SSRIs.

In 2005, a Danish study noted that infants exposed to SSRIs during the first trimester have a 60 percent higher risk of being born with a birth defect. These defects include:

  • Spina Bifida
  • Cleft palate
  • Limb deformity
  • Heart defects
  • Atrial Septal defects
  • Epilepsy/seizures

Women who are pregnant or are thinking of becoming pregnant should consult with their physician about the use of SSRIs. If you are pregnant and are depressed speaking with a health professional can help you determine what your best treatment options are.