Yep, you guessed it - thalidomide babies. Many people in the US weren't aware of this tragedy, thanks to an FDA commissioner who would not permit the company to market thalidomide in the US.
So why, in this day and age, can drug companies manufacture and market dangerous drugs such as SSRIs to pregnant women? What happened to the FDA? It would appear that the manufacturers of drugs such as SSRIs have more clout now than they did back in the '60s.
What does thalidomide have to do with SSRIs? Plenty. Forty years later, dangerous antidepressant drugs are still being marketed to pregnant women, with disastrous results rivaling thalidomide. It was unthinkable then, and just as incredulous today, that drugs are being prescribed to pregnant women without ever being proven to be safe to their unborn babies. Countless babies are born with potentially fatal heart and lung conditions. Some babies aren't born at all.
Crystal Reigelsperger took Zoloft, an SSRI, in Dec 2003 when she was three months pregnant with her third child. At just five months, Crystal thought she was having contractions so she rushed to the hospital, only to find out her unborn baby didn't have a heartbeat. An ultrasound confirmed that her son was dead. "I started taking Zoloft and just a few months later my baby died," said Crystal. "I should have been told that this drug could cause heart failure, I should have been given a choice and not have to kill my unborn child - that just causes more depression.
During the time I took it, I didn't like the way Zoloft made me feel but the doctor said that because I was depressed, it was best to stay on this drug. He said the longer I took Zoloft, the more my body would adjust and he told me to stay on it throughout my pregnancy.
Crystal had to go through natural delivery. "It was hard to deliver him. You never get over it but time goes by. We buried him - Devon Ray Bradley, and he has a tombstone in Centerville, Ohio. In fact I just made the last payment on his tombstone; we had a memorial and we go to see him, his brothers bring flowers.
"Three years later I still had no answers. Why did my son die when I was five months along and the doctors said everything was fine? My other two children are healthy (I didn't take SSRIs when I was pregnant with them) and there is no history of heart problems or any genetic defects in our family.
Just about three months ago I was watching 'breaking news' on television about SSRIs. It profiled one mother whose baby had undergone four open-heart surgeries and she sued the drug company and won her case against them. I went on the Internet and researched Zoloft. I found that other women had their babies born with birth defects or, like my son, not even born.
This is what I want to say to the makers of SSRIs: I should have had a chance to choose, to stay on it and harm my baby or not take it and have Devon alive today. And I'm sure they don't tell doctors to warn their patients either. I know it isn't ethical to test pregnant women, but without tests it shouldn't be sold. I will never know for sure that Zoloft caused my baby to die but it was too coincidental."
Even now, pregnant women are advised to discuss with their doctors whether to stay on SSRIs during their pregnancy, and that SSRI treatment should only be continued if the benefits to the individual patient are thought to outweigh the risks to the unborn child. How about switching drugs or stopping treatment altogether? What risks to the mother could outweigh the death of a baby? Withdrawal isn't as tragic as death.
READ MORE LEGAL NEWS
In September 2005, Health Canada issued a warning that paroxetine (Paxil), a widely prescribed SSRI, causes malformations to the fetus. There have been several warnings since about other SSRIs.
SSRIs and other newer antidepressants prescribed for the treatment of depression include the following drugs: Wellbutrin (bupropion), Celexa (citalopram), Cipralex (escitalopram), Prozac (fluoxetine), Luvox (fluvoxamine), Remeron (mirtazapine), Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline) and Effexor (venlafaxine), and Zyban (bupropion) for smoking cessation.