According to a study published by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the use of prescription medication by pregnant women over the last three decades has drastically increased. According to the study, which interviewed 30,000 women since 1976, first-trimester use of prescription medication increased by more than 60%, and the use of 4 or more medications more than tripled. By 2008, approximately 80% of women took prescription or over-the-counter drugs during pregnancy and half of women reported taking a prescription drug during the first trimester. These results are particularly alarming given the increasing reports of birth defects in children whose mothers took a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant during pregnancy.
The use of prescription medication by pregnant women over the last three decades has drastically increased.
In 2006, the FDA reported that women who used SSRI’s after the 20th week of pregnancy had children who were 6 times more likely to have persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN). PPHN is the failure of the normal circulatory system transition after birth, and frequently leads to death or disease for the newborn. This is not the only risk SSRI’s present to pregnant women, as they have also been linked to abnormal skull development, gastrointestinal abnormalities, cardiac defects, brain defects, Ventrical Septal Defects (VSD), Atrial Septal Defects, Tetralology of the Fallot (TOF), and many others.
One of most popular SSRI antidepressant is Zoloft (sertraline), a drug manufactured by Pfizer. Zoloft’s sales totaled over $3 billion in 2005, the last full year before its patent expired. Zoloft has been involved in multiple studies showing an increased risk of Zoloft birth defects if taken during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. For this reason, there has been growing momentum against Pfizer for not adequately warning consumers of known risks associated with the drug’s use during pregnancy. Many similar lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline for the drug Paxil, and the company has already paid out over $1 billion in settlements.
While Zoloft and other SSRIs can have a very positive impact on an individual’s mental state, they may also pose significant risks to pregnant women. Though reports show that drug use during pregnancy is on the rise, women who wish to do this should talk to their doctor about the benefits and risks of these meidcaitons. If you or a loved one has taken Zoloft or another SSRI and has had a child with birth defects, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced Zoloft birth defect lawyer to pursue the justice you deserve.