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Did Effexor Cause Matthew's Death? The Questions Continue

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Kamloops, BCA little under two months ago, Matthew Schultz would have celebrated his second birthday. Two years of life for the child of a British Columbia family in Canada. However, Matthew never made it to two years. The sad reality is that Matthew lived only two hours when he was born on February 21, 2009. His mother had been prescribed Effexor. The suspicion is that Matthew died due to Effexor birth defects.

To that end, a copy of a coroner's report from the Ministry of Public Safety and the Solicitor General for British Columbia notes exposure to venlafaxine (Effexor) in utero as a line item under the heading "Other Significant Conditions Contributing to Death."

A copy of the report was highlighted on a blog the Schultz family maintains in Matthew's memory.

The various Effexor side effects associated with the serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant include cautions over the potential for adverse reactions such as Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN).

Matthew's father notes that his son was born bearing a purplish-blue color (a description consistent with photographs of the infant taken at birth), cried only once, then later was found by his father to be "breathing funny and clucking." Ten minutes later, the infant was discovered in full cardiac arrest, and he could not be saved.

An early pathology report indicated that findings were consistent "with a neonatal diagnosis of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension," or Effexor PPHN, according to the deceased infant's father.

In the end, the British Columbia Coroner's report concluded that Matthew Schultz ultimately died of natural causes (a finding the family disputes). However, it is noted in a blog post put up by the family on March 7 that brain tissue from Matthew examined by a technician at the Harvard Medical School revealed a defect in Matthew's brain stem. According to the blog entry, the examiner said "…we speculate that the duplication of the dentate gyrus in our case is a reflection of excessive neurogenesis associated with prenatal ssri exposure…and represents a direction of further research."

Meanwhile, various individuals leaving comments on the YouTube site that serves as a tribute to Matthew during his brief life suggest similar issues with Effexor venlafaxine.

"Seven years ago my third son was born an Effexor baby," writes one contributor. "We were lucky he was born without breathing difficulties, as I was on a very high dose throughout my entire pregnancy. He went through severe withdraw [sic] and was later diagnosed with sensory integration problems after having two adverse reactions to vaccines."

And another…

"My son was born in 2006 and was an Effexor baby, he was born 5.5 weeks early and 9 pounds also blue, he wasn't breathing. After [a] time they were able to save him but he has always had issues that his older siblings never had..."

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