Taking Zoloft and other similar antidepressants during your pregnancy may result in serious consequences for your baby. If you were prescribed Zoloft while you were pregnant and your baby is born with birth defects, you may be eligible to seek compensation. To learn more, contact The Law Office of Melinda J. Helbock, A.P.C.
Zoloft® (sertraline), a popular antidepressant, is prescribed to treat:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Panic attacks
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder
The drug is in a class of medicines called select serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Serotonin helps to stabilize mood. It is also a neurotransmitter, a substance that helps messages travel from one nerve cell in the brain to another.
Much is unknown about exactly how SSRIs work, but the following is what scientists know occurs. SSRIs work by preventing brain cells from absorbing (reuptaking) serotonin. This makes serotonin more available in the spaces between cells, keeping the levels of serotonin higher. Serotonin has been shown to stabilize mood. This extra availability of serotonin helps to keep someone’s mood more even.
Side Effects of Zoloft
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) added a boxed warning to the label of Zoloft, warning patients that in some people, usually younger than 24-years-old, Zoloft has been found to increase suicidal thoughts. A boxed warning is a strong alert set off in a black-ruled box to catch the patient’s attention.
Patients taking Zoloft, their families and their caregiver should know that in some patients, suicidal thinking or perhaps behavior, shows up as depression that is new or gets worse. The following are some of the signs: thoughts of harming oneself, extreme worry, agitation, panic attacks, trouble falling or staying asleep, aggression, thoughtless actions, extreme restlessness, and unusual degree of excitement.
If any of these symptoms occur, the patient or caregiver should contact a doctor right away.
The drug can have many other side effects. These usually disappear after someone has been taking it for a while. The side effects may include:
- Dry mouth
- Gas or bloating
- Appetite suppression
- Changes in weight
- Unusual fatigue
- Pain, burning, or tingling in the hands or feet
- Sore throat
- Sex drive changes
- Abnormal sweating
Zoloft and Birth Defects
Zoloft has been labeled pregnancy category C. This means that animal studies have shown that the drug may cause birth defects but that no adequate human studies have shown this risk.
On the other hand, the FDA issued an alert in July 2007 warning of a relationship between a mother’s taking an SSRI after the 20th week of her pregnancy and an increased chance that her baby would be born with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). The FDA announcement referred to a study showing the risk of PPHN was six times greater in babies born to mothers who took SSRIs after the 20th week of pregnancy.
Of course there haven’t been any human studies to test the effects of Zoloft and other SSRIs on babies. What mother would want to participate in such a study? There is belief that these drugs are linked to an increase in the risk for certain birth defects, however, based on the number of babies born with complications.
Some of the birth defects that are believed to be linked to taking antidepressants such as Zoloft include PPHN, certain heart defects and omphalocele, an abdominal wall defect. While a direct link has not yet been made, our attorneys are available to investigate claims on behalf of women who give birth to babies with defects and who took Zoloft and other SSRIs during their pregnancies.
More about the possible birth defects:
- PPHN: a condition that occurs when the infant’s lungs fail to assume their proper function after the baby is born. When the infant is in the womb, its mother supplies its oxygen. Once delivered, the baby’s lungs need to take over this job. PPHN is a serious condition that needs careful monitoring and treatment. The infant is treated in the neonatal intensive care unit where he or she receives 100 percent oxygen delivered to the lungs.
- Septal heart defects: sometimes called a hole in the heart. It is a flaw in the walls (septa) that separate the heart’s chambers. This hole allows blood to flow the wrong way. How these babies are treated depends upon where the hole is located and how large it is.
- Omphalocele: if a baby is born with this condition, the intestines and sometimes other organs in the abdomen protrude through the baby’s belly button. This defect is treated with a series of surgeries.
Was Your Baby Born With a Birth Defect After You Used Zoloft?
If your infant was born with PPHN, a septal heart defect, or omphalocele and you took Zoloft during your pregnancy, you should speak with an attorney to find out if you are eligible to seek compensation. These birth defects are serious and can affect you and your baby for the rest of his or her life. To learn more, contact the San Diego personal injury law firm of The Law Office of Melinda J. Helbock, A.P.C. We are dedicated to helping individuals and families that are affected by unsafe and dangerous drugs.
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*Additional Notes: Zoloft® (sertraline) is manufactured by Pfizer. Click here for Patient Information.