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Parents Join Zoloft Lawsuit

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Detroit, MIAs more parents reportedly join a Zoloft lawsuit, alleging that infants exposed to the antidepressant prior to birth are at an increased risk of so-called Zoloft heart birth defects, a new study suggests a link between the use of Zoloft while pregnant and a risk of Zoloft side effects in infants.

According to The St. Clair Record (01/05/12), parents who allege their children suffered serious birth defects after exposure to Zoloft prior to birth have joined a lawsuit against Pfizer, maker of Zoloft. The lawsuit reportedly claims that expectant mothers were prescribed Zoloft despite the risk of side effects. As a result, the lawsuit alleges, the babies were born with defects, including heart defects.

The plaintiffs argue that Pfizer should have known about the risks associated with the use of Zoloft while pregnant but did not provide adequate warnings on its medication. They accuse Pfizer of negligence, fraud and breach of implied warranties.

Zoloft is in a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). A study, published in the British Medical Journal (01/13/12), suggests that use of SSRIs while pregnant was linked to double the risk of having a baby born with pulmonary hypertension as compared with mothers who did not take SSRIs while pregnant.

Although the overall risk is low, even in mothers who do take SSRIs while pregnant, it is still a risk of a serious condition, one that can cause severe health problems and can be life-threatening. Babies born with pulmonary hypertension do not adapt to breathing outside the womb, resulting in difficulty getting oxygen circulating through their bodies. Pulmonary hypertension can cause organ failure.

According to ABC News (01/13/12), approximately one in 1,000 babies born in the general population have pulmonary hypertension. Researchers found double the incidence of pulmonary hypertension in mothers who took SSRI medications while pregnant.

The US Food and Drug Administration initially issued a warning about the potential link between SSRI use while pregnant and pulmonary hypertension in 2006. In December 2001, however, the agency altered the warnings, saying that any conclusion as to a link between SSRI use while pregnant and pulmonary hypertension was premature.

For women who are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, it is important to weigh the risks of SSRI use while pregnant with the risk of untreated depression.

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