Pregnant women who are taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Zoloft (also known as sertraline), may be placing their babies at risk of serious birth defects. Please contact us for the most recent Zoloft birth defects lawsuit litigation news. Numerous studies have shown that prenatal exposure to SSRIs can increase the odds of certain congenital malformations. For example, a Swedish study showed a 2-fold increase in the risk for heart defects. Another study published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed a 6-fold increase in the risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN), a potentially fatal lung disorder. There are several Zoloft birth defects that can jeopardize the health of a baby.
One class of congenital disorders, known as neural tube defects (NTDs), affect the baby’s spinal cord. The most common presentation is spina bifida, a condition that forms during the first month of fetal development. Its side effects may be mild or severe, and can last a lifetime. We’ll explain how the disorder is treated and managed below. Mothers who used sertraline while pregnant, and gave birth to babies with spina bifida may be eligible to file Zoloft lawsuit claims against Pfizer, the drug’s manufacturer.
How Zoloft And Pregnancy Side Effects Present
Early during fetal development, the central nervous system begins as the neural plate, a flat structure of specialized cells. The plate starts to curl during the first month to form the neural tube. Normally, the cells of the tube fuse together during the fourth week to form a solid, unbroken structure. Sometimes, however, they fail to do so, and allow one or more openings to remain in the tube.
At birth, the openings appear between the baby’s vertebrae. If they are too small for any portion of the spinal cord or nerves to protrude through them, the condition is called spina bifida occulta. It rarely presents symptoms. In fact, many people never realize they have it.
A more serious form of the disorder is called meningocele. An opening between the baby’s vertebrae is large enough for a group of membranes called the meninges to protrude through it. Since the nerves and spinal cord remain in place, housed within the vertebrae, there are rarely lasting side effects.
The most severe form of spina bifida is also the most common: myelomeningocele. Here, the vertebral opening is large enough that a portion of the spinal cord, along with nerves, herniates through it. Because these spinal elements are exposed to damage, the baby will usually suffer limited paralysis, limb weakness, and loss of sensation. Many babies also develop neurological complications as well as problems with urinary and bowel function.
Prenatal Surgery To Minimize Spinal Damage
A surgeon can sometimes repair the defect while the baby is still in the womb. Because occulta and meningocele pose few lasting problems, surgery is usually reserved for myelomeningocele. The surgeon will expose and open the mother’s uterus to access the fetus’s spinal cord. Any herniating spinal elements are returned, and the opening through which they protruded is closed.
The baby is still likely to display physical dysfunction after birth since the spinal cord and nerves will have been exposed. But surgery can minimize the damage. Many experts also believe that prenatal surgery can minimize the likelihood of intracranial pressure and cognitive dysfunction.
Postnatal Surgery For Zoloft Birth Defects – Spina Bifida
Most cases of spina bifida are addressed after the baby is born. This is because prenatal intervention for the disorder is still a relatively new procedure and poses risks. Many surgeons lack the requisite skills and equipment to perform the operation.
Babies born with meningocele or myelomeningocele undergo surgery within the first forty-eight hours of life. The meninges and exposed spinal elements are returned through the vertebral opening. Then, the wound is closed to prevent infection.
Babies with severe spina bifida usually require multiple surgeries to correct deformities. Additionally, they need ongoing therapy later in life to learn how to live with paralysis. Many people with myelomeningocele are forced to use a wheelchair throughout their lives.
Other Zoloft birth defects, such as heart defects, craniosynostosis (a congenital malformation of the skull), and PPHN are more common than spina bifida. However, severe spina bifida is serious. It can cause pain, disability, and neurological challenges.
If you used Zoloft during your pregnancy, and your child was born with birth defects, you may be able to file a Zoloft lawsuit claim for compensation. Contact an experienced Zoloft birth defects lawsuit attorney to discuss your case.