No drug is absolutely safe, and when you are prescribed an SSRI antidepressant such as Zoloft, it is understood that it may produce certain adverse effects. But when a drug has the ability to harm your unborn child—and worse, you weren’t warned about the possibility of injury by the drug’s manufacturer—the results are far less forgivable.
Zoloft (sertraline hyrdrochloride) is associated with certain birth defects. While the evidence for some of these links is scant, in other cases, it abounds. This page is meant to clear up what birth injuries Zoloft may in fact cause as well as what you should do if your child was born with what you believe is a Zoloft-related birth defect.
Congenital Heart Defects
Zoloft has been linked to two types of congenital heart problems: Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN), and septal heart defects.
Like other SSRIs, Zoloft may cause PPHN, a potentially life-threatening circulatory defect. In children born with PPHN, oxygen is not properly distributed to the major organs of the body. Even when infants receive adequate treatment for PPHN, the condition is fatal 10 to 20 percent of the time.
A 2006 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) demonstrated the link between SSRIs and PPHN. The research led to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning which stated that pregnant women should consider SSSRI alternatives as well as avoiding altogether drugs like Zoloft in the later stages of pregnancy.
Children suffering from a septal defect are born with a heart that pumps blood inefficiently. While treatable, long term complications such as arrhythmia, pulmonary hypertension, and an increased risk of cardiac events are possible.
According to a 2009 British Medical Journal study, all mothers who take an SSRI during the first trimester of pregnancy are more likely to give birth to a baby with a septal heart defect. Zoloft, however, was found to me more dangerous than other SSRIs in this regard.
Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate
Despite speculation that Zoloft and other SSRIs can cause craniofacial malformations, the evidence supporting this link is virtually nonexistent. The birth defects were noted in a broad 2007 NEJM analysis of all birth injuries thought to be associated with SSRIs, yet the data does not seem to indicate a strong risk of cleft lip or cleft palate or cleft palate resulting from Zoloft use during pregnancy.
A 2010 study appearing in the Canadian Medical Association Journal seems to clearly indicate a connection between certain types of antidepressants and miscarriage. The study findings show that compared to those women who did not take antidepressants during pregnancy, expectant mothers who took an SSRI and/or an SNRI were 68 percent more likely to miscarry. While the researchers stopped short of saying that pregnant women should not take antidepressants, they urged medical professionals to exercise caution when prescribing the drugs to women of child-bearing age.
Speak With a Lawyer About Your Child’s Birth Injury
Spontaneous abortion and birth defects are tragic outcomes that can happen for numerous reasons—some natural, others unnatural. If you believe that Zoloft is responsible for harming your child, it may be possible to hold Pfizer responsible through a lawsuit. To learn more, contact an experienced member of the Rottenstein Law Group by filling out this form or calling…
Learn More: Download RLG’s Free Zoloft Brochure