Zoloft (sertraline) is in a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Please contact us for the latest Zoloft lawsuits settlements news if your child developed a birth defects caused by taking this medication while pregnant. These medications have been linked to numerous congenital defects. The public was made aware of the risk in 2005, when the FDA warned pregnant women that using SSRIs like Zoloft could result in fetal heart defects. The following year, the public learned that taking SSRIs during pregnancy could cause a potentially fatal lung disorder known as persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN). Many other Zoloft birth defects have since been uncovered, including those that disrupt the development of the skull, spine, and abdomen.
Studies show that prenatal exposure to sertraline can increase the risk of several congenital heart disorders. Some are life-threatening and warrant immediate surgical intervention. Others present less danger initially, but can have severe consequences later in life. Heart valve abnormalities are among this latter group. If your infant was born with the following valve defects, you and your child may be eligible to file a Zoloft lawsuit claim against the drug’s manufacturer.
Zoloft Birth Defects
In a normal-functioning heart, valves control blood flow from the upper chambers (atria) to the lower chambers (ventricles), and from the lower chambers out of the heart. The valves consist of flaps that open and close according to the chambers’ contractions. Stenosis is a condition in which the valves’ flaps are too thick or stiff. As a result, they do not open completely. Less blood is able to flow through the flaps, which causes the affected chamber to pump more aggressively.
When stenosis affects the mitral valve (between the left atrium and left ventricle), it can cause coughing, breathing difficulty, and shortness of breath. Severe cases can lead to signs of congestive heart failure.
Stenosis in the aortic valve (between the left ventricle and aorta) can cause the same symptoms. In addition, the infant may faint sporadically due to insufficient blood flow to the brain.
A stenotic pulmonary valve (between the right ventricle and pulmonary artery) can cause fainting and shortness of breath. Also, because less blood is able to flow to the lungs to pick up oxygen, the baby may develop signs of cyanosis. A blue tint will become noticeable on the skin due to inadequate oxygen in the bloodstream. The infant’s abdomen may also swell as the result of fluid accumulation. Severe pulmonary stenosis can result in death.
Heart Valve Regurgitation (Insufficiency)
Regurgitation (sometimes called insufficiency) is essentially the opposite of stenosis. The flaps of the valves fail to close completely, which allows blood to flow in the wrong direction. For example, a regurgitant tricuspid valve (between the right atrium and right ventricle) allows blood that has been pumped to the ventricle to leak back into the atrium. This can cause abdominal distension, fluid buildup in the feet and legs, and endocarditis.
Pulmonary valve regurgitation can cause the same issues. The baby may also display signs of respiratory distress.
Insufficiency in the mitral valve is usually more serious. It can cause elevated blood pressure, arrhythmias, stroke, and even heart failure.
Aortic valve insufficiency can cause the infant’s heart to race or flutter. It also leads to shortness of breath, pulmonary edema, and occasional losses of consciousness.
Heart Valve Atresia
Atresia is a condition in which the valves are malformed in such a way that their openings are partly or completely blocked. As a result, blood flow through the valves is severely restricted. This defect is often accompanied by other heart defects (e.g. septal defects, patent ductus arteriosus, etc.) that allow blood to reach the baby’s body.
Tricuspid atresia and pulmonary atresia typically result in cyanosis. In addition, the right ventricle is often underdeveloped.
Atresia of the mitral and aortic valves present many of the same symptoms as stenosis. The baby may develop a cough, have difficulty breathing, and periodically faint.
Although valve disorders can be serious, they present less danger than other Zoloft birth defects. If your baby is suffering from congenital heart disorders stemming from prenatal exposure to Zoloft, you may have the right to file a claim for compensation. Contact an experienced Zoloft lawsuit settlements lawyer to discuss your case.