Antidepressants May be to Blame for Gastroschisis

Mothers who took antidepressants and then gave birth to babies with gastroschisis—a hernia-like birth defect—may be eligible to participate in lawsuits against manufacturers of Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, or other antidepressant medications. Recent studies have found a link between antidepressants and gastroschisis, with one showing that mothers taking Paxil had about three times the odds of giving birth to a baby with the defect.

What is Gastroschisis?

Gastroschisis occurs when a baby’s abdominal wall fails to develop correctly. Considered a type of hernia, or rupture, babies with this condition develop a hole in the abdominal wall while still inside the womb. This hole is usually on the right side of the umbilical cord. As a result, some of the baby’s intestines and/or other organs poke out and continue to develop outside the abdomen. When the baby is born, some or all of his or her intestines remain outside the abdomen. How much varies from child to child. Some have only a few loops of bowel exposed, while others have much of the intestine and stomach protruding.

How is Gastroschisis Detected?

Sometimes this birth defect can be detected before the baby is born, which can help doctors and parents better prepare to care for the baby after birth. Blood tests that show an elevated level of alpha-fetroprotein (AFP) indicate gastroschisis. A fetal ultrasound may also detect the birth defect in some cases where the protruding intestines can be seen. Once the birth defect is detected, special monitoring ensures the unborn baby remains healthy.

How is Gastroschisis Treated?

Fortunately, most children born with this birth defect can be treated with surgery. Depending on the severity of the problem, two surgical options are available. Those with minor gastroschisis and little damage to the intestine are candidates for a single surgery that returns the protruding organs to the abdomen and closes the defect. Though the infant may need a couple weeks in intensive care, he or she will most likely grow up normally.

Those babies with more significant damage to the intestines or with a small abdominal cavity may require multiple surgeries involving the use of a plastic pouch placed over the hole to protect the organs until surgical closure is possible. If the bowel is damaged, parts of it may have to be removed. Fortunately, most fetuses with gastroschisis will not have damaged bowel.

Once the organs are back inside the body, it typically takes awhile before they all begin to work normally.

Gastroschisis Linked with Antidepressants

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has advised healthcare professionals to be particularly careful when treating depression in pregnant women, because of the link between certain antidepressants and birth defects like gastroschisis. Many women have already filed gastroschisis lawsuits against manufacturers of Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac, and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors that treat depression.

If your newborn suffers from gastroschisis and you took an antidepressant during your pregnancy, you may have a right to compensation. A gastroschisis lawyer can help. Dedicated to upholding women’s rights, Chaffin Luhana LLP is happy to provide a confidential case evaluation at 1-888-480-1123.