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Zoloft and Heart Defects

Zoloft (sertraline) is a selective seretonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant. Studies have found that women who take Zoloft during pregnancy have a greatly increased risk of giving birth to a baby with serious birth defects, particularly if the mothers take Zoloft during the first trimester. Zoloft has been linked to many different kinds of birth defects. One of the most serious birth defects from Zoloft is heart defects. Here is an overview of the types of heart defects caused by Zoloft.

Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)

Atrial septal defect refers to a hole between the heart’s upper chambers, which increases blood flow to the baby’s lungs. ASD often does not cause symptoms in childhood, but complications may develop in adulthood if the defect is not detected and treated.

Ventricular septal defect (VSD)

Ventricular septal defect refers to a hole between the heart’s lower chambers, allowing oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood to mix, which can cause strain on the baby’s heart and lungs. Symptoms of VSD include a bluish tint to the skin, rapid heartrate, and heart murmurs.

Tetralogy of fallot

Tetralogy of fallot is a mixture of four different heart defects, and requires early surgery to correct. Symptoms of tetralogy of fallot include a bluish tint to the skin, heart murmurs, and shortness of breath.

Hypoplastic left heart syndrome

Hypoplastic left heart syndrome means that the left side of the heart has not developed properly and as a result, there are defects in the left ventricle, aorta, and mitral valves. Since the left side of the heart cannot function properly, the heart cannot pump enough blood through the body to sustain life. This defect is fatal unless treated promptly.


Persistent pulmonary hypertension in the newborn (PPHN) is not a heart defect, but is often included with them because it affects blood flow. In the womb, babies do not use their lungs; they receive oxygen from the placenta by way of the umbilical cord. A blood vessel called the ductus arteriosis sends blood directly back to the heart, bypassing the lungs. In a healthy infant, the ductus arteriosis permanently closes after birth, allowing blood to flow to the lungs and receive oxygen. This oxygen-rich blood is then circulated to the rest of the body. But in babies with PPHN, the ductus arteriosis blood vessel remains open, which means the blood still bypasses the lungs and does not receive the oxygen the baby needs. Symptoms of PPHN include a bluish tinge, rapid breathing, rapic heartrate, and respiratory distress.

Zoloft litigation

Since studies have linked Zoloft use during pregnancy to birth defects, there has been a rise in Zoloft litigation. Parents whose children have suffered birth defects from Zoloft have filed lawsuits charging that Zoloft manufacturer Pfizer  did not warn patients of Zoloft risks and seeking compensation for their children’s pain and suffering and medical expenses.

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