Cipralex Birth Defects

Cipralex Birth Defects Include Life-Threatening PPHN

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in ten women will experience depression during their pregnancies. Depression can make it difficult for a woman to perform her typically daily activities or to relate to her family. Worse, it can increase risk of preterm labor, low birth weight, and smaller head circumference. Consequently, many women turn to their healthcare providers for help, and are prescribed antidepressants like Cipralex (the generic version of brand-name Lexapro).

Thousands of women have taken Cipralex and other similar depressants without realizing that these drugs—known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)—can significantly increase the risk of birth defects like persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), a life-threatening condition. Cipralex birth defects like these and others have compelled many women to seek the advice of a Cipralex lawyer to attempt to hold the manufacturers responsible.

What is Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN)?

This Cipralex birth defect occurs when a baby’s circulation system is unable to adapt to breathing after birth. In the womb, the baby gets oxygen from the mother’s placenta through the umbilical cord. The lungs don’t require as much blood, so blood pressure remains high to keep most of the blood away.

After a baby is born, blood pressure in the lungs falls, arteries dilate, the lungs expand, and more blood flows into them, starting the oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange. In PPHN, something goes wrong—the blood vessels don’t dilate, blood pressure to the pulmonary arteries remains high (pulmonary hypertension), and the baby can’t get enough blood into the lungs. Therefore, he or she can’t get enough oxygen into the blood.

Babies with this condition may be placed in an environment with 100 percent oxygen, or may need a ventilator. Often, a high percentage of oxygen will help open the arteries going into the lungs. In severe cases, nitric oxide may be added to the oxygen to further encourage the arteries to open. Unfortunately in some cases, the lack of oxygenated blood can lead to heart failure, shock, kidney failure, organ damage, seizures, and even death.

Cipralex Birth Defects: PPHN

SSRI antidepressants have recently been linked to an increased risk of birth defects like PPHN. SSRIs work by increasing the level of serotonin—a “feel-good” neurotransmitter in the brain—thereby improving mood disorders and lessening depression. A 2006 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, however, found that mothers who took SSRI antidepressants in early pregnancy were six times more likely to have babies with PPHN.

After this study was released, the FDA issued a public health advisory warning patients and healthcare providers about the potential dangers, and requiring all SSRI medications to update their warning labels. The FDA also classified Lexapro (brand-name of generic Cipralex) as a “Category C” medication, which means it may cause harm to a human fetus.

Increased Risk of Heart Defect, Cranial Defect, and Abdominal Defect

Another study published in the American Journal of Nursing (2010) linked SSRIs like Cipralex to an increased risk of septal heart defects. Additional studies using Swedish registry data showed women taking Paxil (another SSRI antidepressant) had a 2-fold increased risk of having babies with heart defects, and a separate U.S. study showed a 1.8-fold increased risk of congenital malformations. A 2007 SSRI study also showed that mothers taking SSRIs increased their risk of having a baby with a brain or cranial defect, or an abdominal defect.

Cipralex Lawsuit May Result in Compensation

If your child was born with a birth defect, particularly PPHN, and you took Cipralex during the first trimester, a Cipralex lawyer can help determine the potential for your claim in a Cipralex lawsuit.  Contact Chaffin Luhana LLP today for a confidential case evaluation at 1-888-480-1123.