Prozac® has long been considered the hallmark of modern psychiatric medication. Since 1987, it has been seen as a wonder drug used to treat more than just major depression; however, with the good, there were also horrible side effects, risks and complications associated with the antidepressant. Some of the most troubling complications have affected pregnant patients and their unborn children.
Prozac and pregnancy
Prozac is one of the first major selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)1 It works by changing the brain chemicals that control a person’s mood. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, women should be monitored closely if taking Prozac during pregnancy.2
In 2010, researchers found that Prozac and SSRIs caused serious side effects if taken during pregnancy. Miscarriage was a known serious Prozac side effect for pregnant mothers.3 Other side effects experienced by pregnant patients were suicidal thoughts and behaviors as well as Prozac withdrawal syndrome. Studies also showed that developing babies experienced a range of birth defects.
Birth defects and Prozac
Birth defects are the leading cause of death for children under 1 year of age.4 There are thousands of birth defects whose causes range from genetic to environmental. Environmental causes include prescription drug use. Case after case has shown that Prozac is linked to serious, and even life-threatening, birth defects.5
These birth defects include:
- Cleft lip and palate
- Serious heart problems and defects
- Skull and other bone malformations
- Respiratory distress
- Spina bifida
- Neural tube defects
- Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN)
- Intestines forming outside of the abdomen
- Abnormal brain development
Any one of these defects can cause major health issues for a newborn. In the case of pregnant women taking Prozac, the risk for birth defects like PPHN were six times more likely. In the case of PPHN, which is a heart and lung condition, 10 percent of babies die. For those other babies suffering from Prozac-related birth defects, some would require intensive care or even long-term medical care.
Prozac lawsuits and birth defect litigation
Within three years of Prozac being on the market, its manufacturer Eli Lilly was involved in litigation.6 In 1990, the international drug maker was facing million-dollar lawsuits from patients who had increased violent, suicidal and aggressive behaviors. Plaintiffs claimed Eli Lilly had not warned doctors and their patients about the possible risks. Around this same time, birth defects linked to Prozac began to surface.
Presently, SSRIs like Paxil® and Zoloft® are the subject of multi-district litigation cases over birth defects and pregnancy complications; however, Eli Lilly is not currently facing any nationwide litigation for Prozac related birth-defect claims. Parents are seeking legal help for the injuries their newborns have and will continue to suffer.
Women who take Prozac during pregnancy may not be fully aware of the potential risks. Side effects, birth defects and even death may occur. For those women injured by Prozac use, there are legal remedies. An experienced personal injury/mass tort lawyer can help you understand if you have a claim and what your legal rights are.