Effexor Heart Defects in Newborns
Babies who were exposed to Effexor prior to birth may be at an increased risk of developing Effexor side effects. These side effects may include heart and lung defects and developmental delays. Although little research has been done on the risk of Effexor birth defects, medications that are similar to Effexor have been linked to serious risks for newborn babies. Other SNRI medications, including Pristiq, may also be linked to serious side effects.
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Effexor Birth Defects
Effexor, also known as venlafaxine, is included in the list of drugs that are called SNRIs or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, which means that Effexor inhibits the reuptake of both norepinephrine and serotonin.
Manufacturer Wyeth claims that it increases the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the spaces between the cells in the brain and that these increased levels allow more efficient transmission of electrical signals to the brain and increase patients' feelings of well-being.
Although Effexor was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recent studies have raised concern about side effects, including birth defects.
Research now indicates that women using the Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) (which are similar to Effexor but not identical) in the first 12 weeks of gestation—when many may not know they are pregnant—have a 40 percent greater risk of their baby suffering malformations. Heart defects are 60 percent more likely, according to research.
A Danish study reported a link between SSRIs and major congenital malformations, including cardiac malformations. The risk was increased among women who had prescriptions for SSRIs filled in the 30 days prior to conception through the end of the first trimester, compared with those who had no SSRI prescriptions filled during the same period.
In March 2006, Health Canada issued a warning to all pregnant women and women considering becoming pregnant that SSRI drugs similar to Effexor may pose life-threatening risks to their babies. Nursing mothers are also warned that SSRIs could be secreted in milk and could have an effect on nursing infants.
Effexor is in FDA Pregnancy Category C, meaning that there could be a risk to the unborn baby if exposed to Effexor prior to birth.
Effexor and Developmental Delays
A 2010 study published in the March issue of Pediatrics suggested a link between babies exposed to antidepressants during the second or third trimester of pregnancy and some developmental delays. Those delays included sitting up without support later and walking later than other children who were not exposed to the antidepressants. According to the study, children exposed to antidepressants, including SSRIs and Effexor, sat up 16 days later and walked a month later than children not exposed to the antidepressants.
By 19 months the children who were exposed to antidepressants had greater difficulty occupying themselves for more than 15 minutes than the children who were not exposed to antidepressants.
Researchers concluded that the study suggests a "permanent or reversible effect of antidepressants exposure on fetal brain development, which may depend on the timing of exposure during pregnancy."
Effexor and Birth Defects
Other birth defects reportedly linked to SSRIs and SNRIs:
- Neural-tube defects (brain and spinal cord)
- Craniosynostosis (abnormally shaped skull)
- Infant omphalocele (abdominal wall defects)
- Club foot (one or both feet turn downward and inward)
- Anal atresia (complete or partial closure of the anus)
- Cleft lip and cleft palate
Effexor is in a different class of drugs than Paxil and other antidepressants. Effexor is actually a serotonin-norephinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). Like the other antidepressants, it is used to treat major depression and other mood disorders. However, where Effexor is different is that it works by increasing the levels of two neurotransmitters in the brain: serotonin and norepinephrine. Antidepressants in the SSRI category act selectively on serotonin.
Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) is another SNRI. It is used to treat major depressive disorder and is manufactured by Pfizer. Because Pristiq is an SNRI it may involve side effects similar to those of other SNRI medications.
Effexor Heart Birth DefectsIf your baby was born with heart defects and you took Effexor during your pregnancy, a lawyer may be able to help you. Please click the link below and describe your case, which will be reviewed by an attorney at no charge.
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