In 2007, a study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine titled “First-Trimester Use of Selective Serotonin-Reuptake Inhibitors and the Risk of Birth Defects.” Please contact us for the latest Zoloft lawsuits news if your child developed a birth defect after using this medication during pregnancy. SSRIs represent a class of drugs commonly prescribed to treat depression. The researchers found that exposing babies to Zoloft – an SSRI known by its generic name sertraline – while they were in the womb increased the risk of abdominal birth defects. Prior studies had also revealed evidence of other Zoloft birth defects, including those that affect the spine, heart, and lungs.
Several parents whose children were born with congenital disorders following prenatal exposure to sertraline have filed Zoloft lawsuit claims. They allege the manufacturer, Pfizer, failed to adequately test the drug or warn them of the risks. Below, we’ll describe two abdominal birth defects – omphalocele and gastroschisis – that may develop in babies whose mothers use sertraline while pregnant. You’ll learn how each disorder presents and how each is corrected.
Zoloft And Pregnancy Side Effects – Omphalocele
Babies with an omphalocele are born with some of their abdominal organs on the outside of their bodies. This birth defect is a type of hernia. The affected organs may be limited to a short section of the small intestine, or can include the spleen and liver. They are contained within a thin sac composed of the peritoneum, a membrane that lines the abdominal cavity.
An omphalocele develops by the end of the first trimester. During normal development, the infant’s intestines protrude into the umbilical cord; this can occur at anytime between the fifth and tenth week. Around the eleventh week, the intestines retract from the umbilical cord back into the abdominal cavity. The muscles of the abdominal wall gradually close over the hole.
In cases where babies are exposed to Zoloft during this period, the intestines occasionally fail to retract. They continue to protrude through the navel. This prevents the muscles of the abdominal wall from closing over the hole, which in turn allows the other organs to herniate outside the baby’s body.
If a baby is born with a small omphalocele, the doctor may be able to return the protruding organs to the abdomen shortly after delivery. However, this may not be possible for larger omphaloceles. The development of the organs outside the abdomen may prevent the abdominal cavity from growing normally. There may be too little space. In such cases, the sac-covered organs are placed into a sterile pouch known as a silo.
The silo prevents infection in the event the peritoneum ruptures. It also helps the baby’s body retain heat. Over the course of several days – and possibly weeks for a severe omphalocele – the doctor will gradually return the organs to the abdomen, section by section. Surgery may be performed at a later date to repair the abdominal muscles.
Zoloft Birth Defects – Gastroschisis: Presentation And Repair
Like an omphalocele, gastroschisis is defined by an abdominal hernia. However, rather than the abdominal organs protruding into the umbilical cord, they herniate through a hole located to the right of the navel. The birth defect is usually small, and typically involves only the intestines. However, it presents a high degree of risk because the intestines are not protected by the peritoneum. In the womb, they are exposed to amniotic fluid, which can cause inflammation and swelling. After birth, they are exposed to bacteria, which may lead to infection.
The preferred approach to treating gastroschisis is to return the bowel to the baby’s abdomen shortly after birth, and during a single treatment. Sometimes, however, doing so is not possible. There may be insufficient room in the abdominal cavity for the herniated intestines. The doctor might need to perform a staged repair by returning a portion of the bowel over several days. A sterile covering is placed on the organ to protect the baby from bacteria and heat loss.
In most cases, neither an omphalocele nor gastroschisis are life-threatening. Even a severe defect can be treated successfully, though the infant may require reconstructive surgery afterward. The most significant risks are infection and the possibility of bowel tissue death.
If your baby is suffering from Zoloft birth defects affecting the abdomen, heart, spine, skull, or lungs, you may have the right to file a claim for compensation. Contact an experienced Zoloft lawsuits settlements lawyer to discuss your legal options.