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Zoloft Is Associated with Heart Defects and Other Problems in Newborns

Zoloft (sertraline), manufactured by Pfizer, is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used to treat depression. But the drug has been associated with various side effects after taking Zoloft especially birth defects in babies when taken by pregnant mothers. Examples of birth defects include persistent pulmonary hypertension of the  newborn (PPHN), craniosynostosis, omphalocele, and clubfoot, some of which are life-threatening. It has also been associated with premature birth and autism. Many individuals who have been affected by birth defects after having taken the drug have chosen to file a lawsuit to receive compensation for their child’s injuries.

In lawsuit complaints against Pfizer for Zoloft, heart defects are often cited along with the above-mentioned problems.

Cases against Zoloft consolidated into MDL

On April 17, 2012, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated the lawsuits alleging side effects from Zoloft into multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The first status conference for the MDL was held on July 12, 2012.

Many cases have been filed in state court. The plaintiffs filing birth defects lawsuits generally include punitive damages, compensation, and monetary damages.

VSD and ASD are common congenital diseases cited in Zoloft lawsuits

Two common heart defects cited in Zoloft lawsuits are the congenital heart diseases ventricular septal defect (VSD), and atrial septal defects (ASD). Both have been clinically linked to mothers who have used Zoloft in their first trimester of pregnancy.

ASD means the infant has holes in the two upper chambers of the heart, while VSD means holes in the two lower chambers. The severity of the diseases are dependent on the size and perforations of the holes. In order to save a child’s life, in some cases, open heart surgery is necessary.

If untreated, further complications may arise. Examples of these include stroke, atrial fibrillation, pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary overcirculation, and heart failure.

PPHN causes, treatment, and symptoms

Newborns presenting high blood pressure or hypertension at birth is not an uncommon occurrence. But prolonged conditions can develop into PPHN. A serious lung condition, PPHN stems from blood flow to the lungs being restricted over a prolonged period. When this happens, a child’s blood pressure will rise and to compensate, the right side of the baby’s heart must work harder than it normally would. Some of the symptoms of PPHN are:

• Tachypnya (rapid breathing)

• Heart murmur

• Cyanosis (bluish tint to the skin)

• Low blood-oxygen levels

• Rapid heart rate

If left untreated, PPHN can lead to respiratory problems as well as circulatory disorders.

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