When you are pregnant, it is important to consider the health of your unborn child, as well as your personal well-being. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) categorizes drugs1 according to the risks there may be to pregnant women. These categories range from A, where studies have shown no risk to an unborn child, to D, where there is evidence of risk to an unborn child. According to this scale, certain antidepressant medicines are category C drugs. Some pregnant women have seen birth defects in their children when using these drugs.
Choosing the right antidepressant during pregnancy
Pregnant women may suffer from depression and anxiety during their pregnancy. Antidepressant medication2 can help relieve the symptoms. When choosing the right medicine, you should consider a number of factors including:
- Your symptoms, as you may need a medicine that helps you sleep, for example
- The possible side effects of the medicine
- Family experience, as this can indicate whether the drug will work for you
- Other medications you are using (in case there is an interaction)
- Other health conditions that you may have
- Cost of the medicine (in case your insurance coverage is not adequate)
Doctors commonly prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to treat the symptoms of depression. These drugs (which include the medicine Lexapro) can be very effective, but there are some potentially serious side effects. Women taking Lexapro have seen birth defects in their children.
Medical advice about Lexapro
The FDA categorizes Lexapro (and other SSRIs) as category C medicines. This means that studies in animals have shown an adverse effect on the unborn fetus. Doctors must therefore consider the potential benefits of prescribing these medicines and whether they outweigh any potential risks. In 2006, the FDA issued a warning3 to health care professionals about the risks of SSRIs for unborn children. The warning states that mothers using SSRIs after the 20th week of pregnancy are six times more likely to see birth defects.
Lexapro birth defects
Lexapro patients are at higher risk of a number of different defects4 in their unborn child. One of these defects is persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). PPHN occurs where the unborn child is unable to adapt to breathing outside the womb. Children with PPHN are at risk of disabilities including cerebral palsy and hearing loss. PPHN may even be fatal. Patients taking Lexapro may also see congenital heart defects in their child. Problems with the child's neural tubes are also possible. These may lead to deformations of the skull and brain, respiratory problems, and cleft palate.
Support and Help
If you are (or were) a Lexapro patient, and your child suffers a birth defect, you may be able to file a lawsuit. Mothers of children with birth defects are successfully taking legal action against the manufacturer of Lexapro. To increase your chances of success, you should contact a competent attorney as soon as you become aware of any potential Lexapro birth defect. Your attorney will have a limited window of opportunity to file a lawsuit on your behalf.