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FDA Advisory Warns of Zoloft Birth Defects

The Food and Drug Administration recently released a public health advisory that warns the public about the risk associated with pregnant women using the antidepressant drug Zoloft because of potential harm to the fetus. Zoloft and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are commonly prescribed to patients who have common psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Because of the hormone swings that accompany pregnancy, a number of women find themselves experiencing symptoms of depression while they are pregnant, which could lead to physicians recommending that they take Zoloft and similar medications while they are expecting, but a number of studies have shown that this may not be a good idea.

PPHN is a serious side effect

Birth defects resulting from Zoloft use can include persistent pulmonary hypertension in a newborn, or PPHN, caused by an expectant mother’s use of the antidepressant medication. PPHN is a heart and lung condition that occurs when the baby’s circulation reverts to fetal circulation, meaning a large percentage of the blood bypasses instead of flows through the baby’s lungs. This can cause blood pressure in the arteries and lungs to increase and can lead to circulatory disorders, low blood oxygen levels, and respiratory problems.

Bluish skin, rapid breathing, difficulty breathing, and rapid heart rate are all symptoms that should be looked for when a baby is being evaluated for PPHN. Efforts to increase oxygen levels are the standard treatment for PPHN. Mechanical ventilation, assessed respiration, and nitric oxide are all possible treatments. If left untreated, the condition can be extremely serious and even threaten the life of a fragile newborn.

Legal action taken by parents

Parents of children who were born with birth defects associated with Zoloft use have filed Zoloft lawsuits nationwide. These parents are hoping to win compensation from drug manufacturers that would help cover costs associated with the care of an infant born with a serious birth defect like PPHN.

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