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Lexapro Birth Defects

Recent studies indicate that antidepressants such as Lexapro may be linked to serious newborn birth defects. Despite the potential risks of Lexapro birth defects, given that Lexapro is an FDA Pregnancy Category C drug, women may still be prescribed Lexapro while they are pregnant. According to some studies, Lexapro side effects include a risk of newborn birth defects. Such birth defects include a risk of craniosynostosis, oral clefts and congenital heart defects.


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Lexapro (also known as escitalopram) is an antidepressant used to treat anxiety and major depressive disorder. It is part of a group of drugs called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).

Lexapro birth defectsThe FDA released a Health Advisory on July 19, 2006, alerting women to the risks associated with taking SSRIs while pregnant. The advisory was based on a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found that mothers who took SSRIs such as Lexapro during the second half of their pregnancy were six times more likely to have a baby with Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension in the Newborn (PPHN) than those who did not take SSRIs late in pregnancy.

According to Lexapro Frequently Asked Questions (at, "There have been no studies done to show that Lexapro is safe to use in pregnant women. Therefore, Lexapro should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the unborn child."

Lexapro Side Effects

Studies suggest that use of SSRI medications, such as Lexapro, during pregnancy can increase the risk of cardiac birth defects. These include:

Lexapro and Coarction of the aorta: Occurs when the infant's aorta is too narrow, resulting in uneven blood flow throughout the body. Coarction of the aorta may require medical intervention and/or surgery.

Lexapro and Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome: Occurs when the left side of the infant's heart, which includes the mitral valve, left ventricle and aorta, does not develop properly. This can result in sudden death. Patients may require surgeries and/or a heart transplant to survive. Furthermore, patients who survive may require further surgery later in life.

Lexapro and Pulmonary Stenosis: Narrowing of the pulmonary valve that results in less blood flow to the lungs.

Lexapro and Septal Defect: Occurs when a hole develops in the wall of the infant's heart. This can result in improper blood circulation, which causes the heart to work harder than it should. Patients may require open-heart surgery.

Lexapro and Tetralogy of Fallot: This birth defect, which actually involves four components, (narrowing of the pulmonary valve, large ventricular septal defect, dilated aorta connected to both the left and right ventricles and thickening of the right ventricle) can result in blood not receiving enough oxygen from the lungs before traveling throughout the body. Surgery can be required.

Lexapro and Transposition of the Great Arteries: This occurs when the aorta and the pulmonary artery, which carry blood away from the heart, are switched. It can result in a lack of oxygen in the blood and often requires surgery to recover. Transposition of the great arteries is also known as transposition of the great vessels.

Other possible Lexapro birth defects

Lexapro and Craniosynostosis: Occurs when one or more of the sutures in an infant's skull harden prematurely. This can cause a misshapen skull, intracranial pressure, and a lack of growth in the child's head as she ages. A 2007 study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (06/28/07), found an association between the use of SSRis during pregnancy and a risk of craniosynostosis.

Lexapro and Cleft Palate: Occurs when the separate parts of the skull that form the roof of the mouth do not join completely, causing a cleft. An incomplete cleft is a hole on the roof of the mouth, which a complete cleft palate involves the soft and hard palate. A cleft palate can cause problems with feeding, speech and breathing and can cause ear infections and hearing loss.

Lexapro and Cleft Lip: A facial defect affecting the infant's upper lip. A partial cleft is a small indent in the lip, which a complete cleft is a large groove that runs from the upper lip to the nose. The cleft can cause delays in speech and language.

Lexapro and Club Foot: Occurs when the bones, joints, muscles and blood vessels in an infant's leg and foot are abnormal. It can affect one or both feet and generally presents with the foot turned inward and downward. Without treatment, club foot can cause pain and problems with mobility.

Lexapro and PPHN: PPHN, or Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn, occurs when the blood flow to the lungs is constricted, limiting oxygen in the blood stream. PPHN can be fatal. Infants who survive often require medical intervention, sometimes including heart transplants.

Lexapro Birth Defects Legal Help

If you took Lexapro while pregnant, and your baby was born with PPHN or later developed PPH, a lawyer may be able to help you. Please click the link below and your claim will be sent to an attorney who will evaluate your case for free.
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Posted by

My son was born with pphn. He was not born eaely. He fought for his life and was on ventilator nitric oxide etc. I took lexapr o while pregnant because I was told it was more dangerous for my baby if I was depressed. My son was air flighted to denver. He did survive!! He still has breathing issues. How do you get a law suit?

Posted by

My daughter had CDH too.

Posted by

Daughter was born with craniosynostosis and tetralogy of fallot. I took Lexapro while I was pregnant with her because I was told it would be more harmful to stop taking it and would not harm her.

Posted by

My baby was born with a birth defect called a diaphagmatic hernia, his diaphram never closed properly and his stomach, liver, and intestines were inside of his chest preventing his lungs from growing. My baby's vein in his lungs never grew, therefore born without any. My baby lived for 3 1/2 hours, he was born May 2nd of 2007 at 11:26pm, and past away that following morning on May 3rd of 2007 at 3:00am. Please contact me if this is caused from Lexapro, me and my husband were taking it.


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