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2010 a Good Year for SSRI Birth Defects Plaintiffs

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Dallas, TXPlaintiffs who filed lawsuits alleging SSRI side effects such as SSRI birth defects and PPHN (persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn) may look back on 2010 as a good year. Hundreds of Paxil lawsuits were settled and a million-dollar award given in at least one other lawsuit. For plaintiffs who are investigating lawsuits concerning other SSRIs, 2010 might be a year to look back on with hope.

Perhaps the most heartening was 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 much—but not all—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.

SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and 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 and 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 the blood. Those who develop it often require intensive-care treatment 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 and Effexor are linked to an increased risk in miscarriage before the 20th week of pregnancy.

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