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It's Not Just a Baby, It's a Life: Zoloft Birth Defects

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Washington, DCBirth defects happen for a variety of reasons: genetic predisposition, fate, or worse—a preventable cause. While any birth defect is a parent's worst nightmare, one that might have been preventable is the cruelest blow. Such is the case for a Washington woman who launched a zoloft heart birth defect lawsuit against Zoloft manufacturer Pfizer Inc. late last year.

As reported by the New York Health Law Update in December, Hayden Anderson was born with a Zoloft heart birth defect, as well as other defects—the kind of which can haunt a child into his adult life. In this case, the birth of Hayden was likely to have been viewed as a milestone for his parents given his entrance in the year 2000—the dawning of a brand-new century.

Instead of a milestone, the Anderson family was saddled with unspeakable grief and anguish after Hayden was delivered with multiple birth defects: among them, congenital heart problems, septal defect and mitral valve defects.

Hayden's mother Melonie, whose physician prescribed Zoloft while she was pregnant with Hayden, alleges that Pfizer failed to adequately warn consumers about the risks and dangers associated with Zoloft use during Zoloft pregnancy, among other allegations.

The lawsuit was filed October 26 and names Pfizer Inc., the manufacturer of Zoloft, as the defendant.

The foregoing action is but one example of legal complaints and lawsuits stemming from women who were Zoloft pregnant without being aware of the potential risks to unborn children.

In November, a Zoloft lawsuit was filed in Illinois state court representing eight couples, two of whom hail from the state of Illinois, while the others are from Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Texas, New York and Florida.

That complaint alleges that defendant Pfizer "knew or should have known that Zoloft crosses the placenta, which could have important implications for the developing fetus."

Yet another Zoloft heart birth defect lawsuit was filed this past September in Ohio state court.

All of the lawsuits have a common thread: allegations that the manufacturer either did not know, failed to warn or conducted a "campaign of misinformation" leading to the birth defects, according to the text of the Ohio lawsuit as outlined in the December 12 issue of Lawyers Weekly USA. The plaintiffs in the Illinois lawsuit allege that the Zoloft manufacturer "hid important information about the risks of taking Zoloft during pregnancy" and, instead, chose not to reveal those risks "because it feared such information would cause Zoloft sales to plummet."

It should be noted that in 2006 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a cautionary alert, suggesting that use of Zoloft or other antidepressants in the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) class while pregnant beyond the 20th week of gestation could expose a woman's unborn child to a six-fold increased risk for persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN).

Birth defects happen. But birth defects that are preventable are the worst defects of all. While parents of a child with birth defects stemming from a Zoloft pregnancy will seek compensation to help with medical bills and other costs, no amount of money could make up for a birth defect in a child.


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