Tetralogy of Fallot

Tetralogy of Fallot Heart Defect Linked to Medications

Tetralogy of Fallot is a congenital heart defect present from birth. This heart defect causes blood oxygen levels to drop below normal, depriving the cells and tissues of needed nutrients. The lack of oxygen also causes the skin to develop a bluish-purple color. Several factors increase the risk for this heart defect, most notably the use of certain prescription drugs during pregnancy.

Tetralogy of Fallot Risk Factors

Some women have a higher risk of giving birth to a baby with tetralogy of Fallot. Risk factors for this heart defect include poor prenatal nutrition, alcoholism, diabetes and the development of viral ailments during pregnancy. Women over the age of 40 also have a higher risk of giving birth to a child with tetralogy of Fallot or other congenital heart defect. The drug Depakote, which is used to prevent seizures in people who have epilepsy, may also have a link to this heart defect.

Heart Defect Results

Tetralogy of Fallot results in the formation of four heart and blood vessel defects. The first is a ventricular septal defect, which results in the formation of a hole between the chambers that collect and pump blood. The artery and heart valve that link the lungs with the heart narrow. The valve that carries oxygenated blood to the rest of the body shifts over the ventricular septal defect. This heart defect also causes right ventricular atrophy, a thickening of the right ventricle wall.

Tetralogy of Fallot Signs

Babies born with the tetralogy of Fallot heart defect do not always have bluish-purple skin right away. Many later develop episodes of cyanosis after they cry or eat. Other signs of tetralogy of Fallot include passing out, lack of normal development, clubbed fingers, difficulty feeding and lack of weight gain.


Diagnosis of this heart defect requires a physical examination and diagnostic tests. When a doctor examines a child with tetralogy of Fallot, the child almost always has a heart murmur. Doctors also use the echocardiogram, EKG and chest X-ray to identify the telltale defects of tetralogy of Fallot.


Infants with this heart defect require one or more surgeries to repair the effects. Babies who have surgery for tetralogy of Fallot typically have positive outcomes, but the treatment necessary for this heart-defect is risky and expensive. Someone with tetralogy of Fallot must receive regular monitoring to identify abnormal heart rhythms and other potential complications. Potential complications of this heart defect include death, cardiac arrhythmia, delayed growth, and seizures during periods of low oxygen.

If you took Depakote during your pregnancy and had a child with tetralogy of Fallot, contact one of Chaffin Luhana LLP’s Depakote lawyers at 1-888-480-1123. You may be entitled to compensation, but time is of the essence. Call one of our experienced Chaffin Luhana lawyers immediately.