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Paxil, Birth Defects and Autism

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Over the past few years, LawyersandSettlements.com has interviewed dozens of women who took Paxil during their pregnancy and whose babies were born with birth defects. During these interviews, many women told us that their children -- usually about age three and upwards -- were also diagnosed with autism.

Mothers reported that some children are high-functioning with mild autism (HFA), while others have been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome (AS, also known as Asperger Disorder), which is very similar to HFA. AS can exhibit a variety of characteristics and the disorder can range from mild to severe.

paxil autismHaltom City, Texas: In the case of Sue Brown's daughter Alice, AS is severe. Sue took Paxil throughout her entire pregnancy; Alice was also born with a hole in her heart.

"My daughter had two heart surgeries and I thought we were out of the woods. But around three months of age she started to get developmentally weak. She started to curl up her hands, wobbled her head, and couldn't hold it up. Her head fell straight back as if there was no strength in her neck," says Sue.

"The doctor thought Alice had neurological problems. The neurologist said she had spinal muscular atrophy but blood tests didn't bear out the diagnosis. She appeared to be developing everything else normally but by two years old, she seemed depressed and had panic attacks. She got so upset that I would almost have to smother her with my body to calm her down. She got so worked up at little things like me telling her 'No'. And if I scolded her about anything it was devastating.

She would go outside and sing a sad song -- very dramatic -- and cry at the drop of a hat. By the time she reached kindergarten, behavior problems interfered with school and learning. I felt like it was my fault, that I wasn't a good mother. By grade one she was finally diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome.

She is now 10 and academically, she is at 1st grade level. She has to be in a special class (we can't afford a special school) and she had to repeat 2nd grade. She has friends but it is hard to keep them. When she loses a friend, she is completely devastated. She loves everybody and is very artistic -- I say God gave her this gift. Unfortunately, her siblings don't understand so it is hard for her to get along with her brothers and sisters... It has been a real hardship and I just want to wrap her in bubble wrap and protect her from the world...

Lindsay Ontario: Sherry S. only took Paxil for the first two months of her pregnancy. Her doctor told her to stop taking Paxil when Sherry told him she was pregnant. Still, the damage was done. Her daughter Melanie was born three weeks premature, and not breathing. She had two holes in her heart and suffered a stroke. At seven, she is just now learning to form words.

"She has these little ticks," says Sherry. "Before she tries to say anything, she will turn in circles and she clears her throat, over and over. Melanie is so different from my other three kids; she throws temper tantrums that can blow the roof off the house -- in seconds." And just like Sue Brown, Sherry didn't take Paxil when she was pregnant with her other four kids -- only with Alice.

Metuchen, NJ: Arlene's four-year-old son Wesley was diagnosed with high-functioning autism. "I took Paxil throughout my entire pregnancy with him," says Arlene. "He has sensory problems, speech delay and hypotonia but we are luckier than others because he will most likely be able to function normally in society, even though his way of seeing things will always be different from you and me. Wesley goes to a special school and he gets excellent speech and physical therapy; we are also lucky to be able to afford treatment."

Wisconsin: "I took Paxil from the second trimester on but it was a low dose," says Tammy F. "Everything seemed fine when Owen was born but around age three, he started having social difficulties. We took him to a psychiatrist and he was diagnosed with AS. Owen is now six and he is in special education. I also have a two-year-old son and he is fine; I didn't take Paxil during my pregnancy with him.

"I was reading about the relationship between Paxil and heart defects on the Internet and it occurred to me that there might be a relationship with other disorders and Paxil. It didn't come as any surprise to me that there might be a link between this drug and autism.

When I took Paxil, it was a fairly new drug and I don't think anybody really knew the risks. Since then, we know a lot more about it.

It seems likely that Paxil could cause autism and it does seem so pervasive; maybe biological factors such as AS can be triggered by a chemical.

One thing I want to add is this: a lot of people are dealing with autism and we are all here to help each other -- mainly thanks to the Internet and an online community. We are not alone -- and it will be more than interesting to find out how many women who took Paxil during their pregnancy have autistic children..."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study February 8, 2007 confirming that about one in 160 children -- higher than the one-in-200 estimate from the 1980s -- develops autism or a related disorder like Asperger's Syndrome by the age of 8. Diagnosis is typically around the age of three.

This study infers that approximately 560,000 Americans age 21 or under suffer with some degree of autism.

Researchers say that both genetic variation and developmental factors combine to cause the disorders, but little more is known than that. One thing is known for sure: these disorders are affecting way too many children.

READ ABOUT THIS LAWSUIT

Paxil Birth Defects Legal Help

If you took Paxil during pregnancy, and your baby was born with PPHN, please contact a lawyer involved in a possible [Paxil Birth Defects Lawsuit] to review your case at no cost or obligation.

READER COMMENTS

Posted by

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I too often wondered about this Paxil drug for years and if in any way somehow effected my daughter. I struggled with my daughters needs for years (always knowing something was wrong with her). She was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when she was about 10 years old. She has mild Asperger's, high in the spectrum/ high intelligence...but struggles with socialization and the lack of common sense. Her processing in the brain is on and then off. Also, she has sensory issues...always crying as a baby. I took Paxil during the last four months of my pregnancy.

Posted by

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I too, was wondering if there is link between taking SSRI's during pregnancy and Aspergers. I was taking Paxil just prior to getting pregnant. Once I found out I was pregnant I stopped taking Paxil immediately. However, as the first trimester is crucial to brain development. My son was born healthy, but he immediately showed signs of being distressed but we were clueless as to why he was an extremely sensitive baby. He is now 12 years old and has been recently diagnosed with Aspergers which was not a big surprise as his school life has been misery.

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When I was pregnant with my second son I was on Paxil. I discovered my pregnancy during my 9th week and during my 11th week I took myself off of the drug cold turkey - against the doctors orders. The doctor had just told me to be careful how much Tylenol I took during a week and she did not want me to stop taking an anti-depressant? I did it anyway. I went into labor at 4.5 months gestation but was able to delay birth until 10 days before due date in 2002. But, unfortunately, there was medical issue after medical issue. My son was originally nonverbal, autistic with violent tendencies, severe allergies, asthma, ADHD, and multiple attacks of pneumonia (7 before he was 5). With a LOT of hard work my son is no longer violent, is now verbal (!!!!!) and is on grade level in school in every area - except reading he is on a first grade level with his reading. My oldest son has severe allergies and mild asthma that he 'cured' by swimming daily as a teen and playing a wind instrument. Don't know that it makes a difference but there is a 14 year difference between my two boys. My youngest also receives SSI disability but it looks like they will be taking that from him. I wish this was advertised more.

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I didn't take Paxil during my pregnancy but I did take it right after my son was born while breastfeeding. I started noticing that he wouldn't look me in the eyes while breastfeeding and I could not develop a bond with him. I watched him closely and by 8 to 10 months I was sure he was autistic. I had him diagnosed and he is on the spectrum. I am curious if it was due to the Paxil......he developed gastrointestinal issues and to this day has them. Breast milk is the best thing for a baby.....but I'm afraid that maybe it was the cause of his autism. Is there anyone else. I have two other children that I took no anti depressants with and breast fed and they have no symptoms and appear to be typical children. My oldest is 18, my second is 9 and my youngest is 2.5. My youngest is the child diagnosed with ASD.

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Over 10 yrs ago my doctor had prescribed me Paxil and two marriage counselors. Within that time I planned my son James and unfortunately I could not get off Paxil due to that fact it causes me to have brain seizures. As much as I try to ween myself off there is just no use. My ob told me that apparently I have to take it and that's that. When my son was born in 2002, a friend of a friend was also delivering her baby. Coincedentally they both have Autism. This made me believe it had something to do with the three epidurals I received in 30 hrs or the fact they tried to squeeze my son out to no avail which resulted in an emergency csection. After my endless research I found some interesting facts about Paxil, Autism and the neural cord. Research shows that development of the neural cord in children with Autism do not contain grooves as deep as those without Autism, hence the social and behavior obstacles. My child will undergo a testing of his neural cord is the near future so I can help with the fight against Autism! By the way, my son is on NO medications and never will be! They've done enough damage!

Posted by

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I was prescribed Paxil for anxiety prior to my positive pregnancy test in June 2000. I was already 6 weeks before I knew, at which time, I immediately stopped taking Paxil. My son, Parker, who is now 10, was diagnosed with AS (Asperger's Syndrome) when he was only 4 and 1/2 years old, however, since birth, I recognized developmental differences. When Parker was young, he had terrible ear infections, he would just hang on my - not able to hold on with his legs wrapped around my waist. After receiving the chicken pox vaccine, he developed Shingles - rare for a preschooler. When Parker was just 15 months, he developed an awful case of the Rota Virus at which time, he was hosptialized for dehydration. Upon being released from the hospital where he was born, the attending dr. thought he noticed some seizures that affected his eye movement and hand- reflexes so we were admitted to St. Vincent Hospital in Beaverton, OR for observation and tests. There were no significant findings. Parker is an amazing individual. He's artistic and smart. He attends an all inclusive classroom and is on an IEP. He struggles daily with social situations, facial expressions, humor, and life skills. Luckily, he receives SSI/Disability for his special needs. I've often wondered if there was a link between Autism and Paxil. I was right. Thanks for listening. Sally

Posted by

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I've often wondered if there was a link between paxil and Autism. I'm amazed to see how many posts there are! I took Paxil for the first 6 weeks of my pregnancy. At this time, I was unaware that I was pregnant. I stopped taking paxil when I had a positive pregnancy test. My son who is 10 now, was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at four and a half. However, from birth I noticed irregularities in his development. I have an eight year old as well and I didn't take paxil and she is a neurotypical child.

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