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Can Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy Lead to Birth Defects?

Posted on in Birth Injury

Cook County birth injury attorney medication error

Many people throughout the United States take medications to treat mood disorders and mental health conditions. When used properly under the care of a psychiatrist, these drugs are generally safe, although they can have side effects. Unfortunately, some of these side effects include issues that affect a mother and her child during pregnancy. Women who take antidepressants should be sure to consult with their physician to address the risks of medication use and determine the best ways to receive the treatment they need while minimizing the possibility of birth defects.

What Types of Antidepressants Can Cause Birth Injuries?

While the overall risk of birth defects when using antidepressants is low, certain drugs have been linked to birth defects and other complications during pregnancy and birth. These include:

  • Venlafaxine/Effexor - Links have been found between this drug and birth defects affecting the heart, brain, or spine, as well as cleft palate, defects in the stomach wall known as gastroschisis, and hypospadias, a urethral defect affecting boys.

  • Valproic acid - This anti-seizure medication may be used to treat bipolar disorder, but it can cause significant risks for an unborn child. In around 10 percent of cases, it has been linked to neural tube defects that affect the brain and spine, such as spina bifida, as well as cognitive disorders that could lead to a child having a lower IQ.

  • Paroxetine/Paxil - Use of this drug is often discouraged during pregnancy, since it can increase the risks of multiple types of birth defects, such as heart defects, defects affecting the brain and skull known as anencephaly, and conditions that affect the abdominal wall such as gastroschisis and omphalocele.

  • Fluoxetine/Prozac - This drug has been linked to fetal heart defects and skull defects known as craniosynostosis.

  • Bupropion/Wellbutrin - This medication is sometimes prescribed if a mother is concerned about the risks of using another antidepressant during pregnancy. However, it has been associated with fetal heart defects and miscarriage

  • Tricyclic antidepressants - These drugs may be used if a mother has not responded well to other medications during pregnancy, and they are often considered safe. However, clomipramine/Anafranil has been associated with heart defects and other types of birth defects.

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) - While many of the drugs in this class of antidepressants, which includes citalopram/Celexa, escitalopram/Lexapro, and sertraline/Zoloft, are generally considered safe to use during pregnancy, they have been associated with complications such as maternal weight gain or loss and premature birth. Studies have also indicated that SSRI use during the first trimester may increase susceptibility to autism spectrum disorders for boys.

Contact a Cook County Medication Error Attorney

For many mothers, the use of antidepressants is necessary to maintain their own mental health. During pregnancy, it is important to consult with doctors to determine what drugs can provide effective treatment while minimizing the risk of injury to the child. If you have suffered an injury or your child has experienced birth defects because of the use of an antidepressant, the Birth Injury Law Alliance can help determine whether these issues occurred because the medication was not properly prescribed or because a drug manufacturer did not provide the proper warnings about potential side effects. We will work to make sure you receive the financial resources you need to address your injuries. To arrange a free consultation, contact our Chicago birth injury lawyers today at 312-945-1300.







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