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2010 a Year for Paxil Birth Defects Plaintiffs to Remember

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Dallas, TXPlaintiffs who filed lawsuits alleging Paxil side effects such as Paxil birth defects and PPHN (persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn) may look back on 2010 as a year to remember. Hundreds of Paxil lawsuits were reportedly settled and a million-dollar award handed out in at least one other lawsuit. For plaintiffs who still have Paxil lawsuits pending, 2010 might be a year that provides them with hope that they will receive either a settlement or an award.

One settlement that probably provides pending plaintiffs with hope is a settlement between GlaxoSmithKline (maker of Paxil) and approximately 800 claimants, who alleged their babies were born with birth defects after being exposed to Paxil. Those claims were settled for more than $1 billion, putting most Paxil litigation behind GlaxoSmithKline.

Meanwhile, in a separate lawsuit, a plaintiff reached a confidential settlement with GlaxoSmithKline after alleging that her infant son died of PPHN less than two months after being born. The infant was exposed to Paxil prior to birth.

Paxil is in a class of antidepressants known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). SSRIs and a similar class of drugs, known as SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) have been linked to a serious lung disorder, PPHN, in babies who were exposed to the medications prior to birth. Drugs included in the SSRI or SNRI class include Celexa, Prozac, Luvox, Paxil, Zoloft and Effexor.

Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) is a serious condition in which newborns do not receive enough oxygen in their blood, which in turn leads to a lack of oxygen being circulated throughout the body. Those who develop it often require medical intervention to survive, although not all babies survive the condition. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 suggested that babies who were born with PPHN were six times more likely than healthy babies to have been exposed to SSRIs prior to birth.

SSRIs are used to treat depression. Recent studies, however, suggest that they are associated with an increased risk of birth defects when used during pregnancy. In addition to PPHN, birth defects reportedly linked to SSRIs include atrial and septal defects.

Meanwhile, a Canadian study, published earlier this year, suggests that antidepressants such as Paxil are linked to an increased risk in miscarriage occurring before the 20th week of pregnancy.

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