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Study Shows Postpartum Hemorrhage Risk to be a Zoloft Side Effect

A recent study in the British Medical Journal reported that when pregnant women take antidepressants close to their delivery date, they are at an increased risk for postpartum hemorrhaging. This study is one of many that reports that antidepressants can have very harmful effects on pregnancies.  Specifically, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft side effects on pregnancy are a focus of great concern.  As more and more research has exposed the dangers of these drugs, affected families around the country have begun to file more lawsuits against the drug manufacturers.

Postpartum hemorrhage is a great concern because it is the leading cause of maternal mortality in the United States and elsewhere.  It is a substantial cause of severe maternal morbidity, blood transfusions, and admissions to intensive care.

The authors of the study in the British Medical Journal noted that the incidence of postpartum hemorrhage has increased since the 1990s in the States from 2.3% to 2.9% between 1994-2006.  This trend has not been fully explained by factors such as multiple pregnancies and induction of labor.  Between 7 to 13% of pregnant women in the U.S. are treated with antidepressants.  The study’s authors hypothesized that the use of antidepressants at the time of delivery would result in an increased risk for postpartum hemorrhage.

Postpartum hemorrhaging an SSRI risk, research shows

The study, which was published in August, analyzed a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), that include Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft.  Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that it believed to affect our moods, sleep and learning processes.  Neurotransmitters, including serotonin, send messages between brain cells.  SSRI medications inhibit the reuptake, or absorption of serotonin.  This is thought to improve mood, which in turn can help alleviate the symptoms of depression.

The study focused on 106,000 pregnant women aged 12-55 with a diagnosis of a mood or anxiety disorder.  The women were categorized into four groups based on when they took the antidepressants, current (delivery date), recent (1-30 days before the delivery date), past (1-5 months before the delivery date), and no exposure (the reference group).  The risk of postpartum hemorrhage was 2.8% among women with mood/anxiety disorders but no exposure to antidepressants.  Those who took antidepressants that were non-SSRIs at the time of delivery had a 3.8% risk, and those who took SSRIs at the time of delivery had a 4.0% risk of bleeding problems.

The study concluded that patients who are treated with serotonin and non-serotonin reuptake inhibitors during late pregnancy have an increased risk for postpartum hemorrhage.  The risk for postpartum hemorrhage is just one of many dangerous side effects of antidepressants.

Zoloft side effects in children

Pfizer first introduced Zoloft to the U.S. market in 1999.  It was advertised as a safer alternative to Prozac, which allegedly had more serious side effects.  By 2005, Zoloft was the most popular SSRI antidepressant in the U.S.  Not long after, reports of side effects from Zoloft usage started to emerge.  Side effects included suicide ideation and worsening depression.

Worse still, studies have shown a number of SSRI side effects in newborns.  They include a variety of birth defects, including the following:

  • Clubfoot – It is characterized by deformed feet.  Children with clubfoot may experience malformed limbs, or feet that twist inward or face downward.  The condition requires correction.
  • Craniosynostosis – It is a type of skull deformation or malformation that can affect the growth and development of the fetus.  After birth children may develop seizures, developmental delays, and other problems.  This condition requires surgical correction.
  • Heart defectsZoloft has been linked to heart defects, including atrial septal defects (ASD) and ventrical septral defects (VSD), or holes in the heart.
  • Omphalocele – It occurs in utero, when a child’s internal organs, including the liver and the intestines, form outside the body.  It requires surgical correction.
  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) –  It is a serious lung and heart disorder that is fatal in 10% of all babies who receive the diagnosis.  PPHN can cause cyanosis, low blood oxygen, tachycardia (rapid heart rate), tachypea (rapid breathing), heart murmur, and respiratory distress.  Over time it can cause seizures, permanent lung damage, neurological delays, hearing problems, and developmental delays.
  • Other birth defects – Zoloft has been linked to birth defects like spina bifida, Tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia, congential heart defects, and transposition of the great arteries.

Grounds for filing a Zoloft lawsuit

Pregnant women or women who are trying to get pregnant may be unknowingly subjecting themselves and their babies to Zoloft’s dangerous side effects.  These women and their families may have grounds for filing a Zoloft lawsuit.  Pfizer has already been accused of failing to provide adequate warnings concerning Zoloft and pregnancy.

Currently, more than 250 individuals have filed lawsuits alleging their babies suffer from Zoloft birth defects.  Their cases have been consolidated in multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where plaintiffs hope to recover compensation and some measure of justice.