Many medications are safe for a woman to take during pregnancy, but others are not. SSRIs, which are used to treat depression, are one medication type that can pose risks to a developing fetus and should not be taken by pregnant women. If you were prescribed an SSRI during pregnancy or your prenatal care provider did not advise against taking one, you may have cause for legal action.
What are SSRIs?
SSRI stands for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor and is the most frequently prescribed type of antidepressant. SSRIs work by blocking the brain's serotonin reuptake, which treats depression by balancing serotonin levels. By changing the levels of serotonin in the brain, a person’s mood is elevated. Unlike other types of antidepressants, SSRIs only affect the reabsorption of serotonin, not other neurotransmitters. A 2011 article published by Harvard Health Publications states that more than 10 percent of women take antidepressant medications.
Prescription Drugs Classified as SSRIs
There are a number of different types of SSRIs that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved for use among people suffering from depression. The most common types of SSRIs are listed below.
While the FDA has approved the above, taking an SSRI during pregnancy can pose serious risks to the baby.
How SSRIs Can Harm a Developing Fetus
There is no doubt that women who suffer from depression should seek treatment options while pregnant -- failing to treat depression during pregnancy can be dangerous for both mother and baby. However, using SSRIs during pregnancy to treat depression can be risky. SSRIs, including the drugs Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, Prozac and Celexa, have been linked to birth defects when taken during pregnancy.
Birth defects that have been linked to SSRIs include persistent pulmonary hypertension of the baby, heart defects, malformation of the brain and skull, respiratory distress, cleft palate and cleft lip, and autism. Additionally, one study published in Prescrire International Journal suggests that 20 to 30 percent of newborns who are born to mothers who take SSRIs towards the end of the gestation period have disorders including agitation, abnormal muscle tone and suction, seizures, and hyponatremia.
Who’s liable for harm caused by taking SSRIs during pregnancy?
A mother who has been prescribed and is taking SSRIs is not always aware of the risks that taking an SSRI has to her baby. As such, it is her responsibility to inform her prenatal care provider of all medications that she has been prescribed, and it is the duty of the prenatal care provider to make recommendations about which prescriptions may be dangerous for the mother, the baby or both. If a prenatal care provider fails to warn a mother about the dangers of taking an SSRI during pregnancy, then the care provider may be held liable for the baby’s defects.
Other parties who may be held liable may include the hospital or clinic where the prescription was issued, the doctor who wrote the prescription, the pharmacy where the prescription was filled or the pharmacist who filled it, and/or the manufacturer of the SSRI that caused harm to the baby.
Contact an Attorney if You’ve Taken Antidepressants During Pregnancy
Not all babies born to mothers who took antidepressants during pregnancy will be born with defects or other disorders, but many of them will. While filing a lawsuit against your prenatal care provider can be trying, doing so can be the first step in raising awareness about the dangers of SSRIs during pregnancy and recovering compensation for your baby’s injuries. To learn more about the process and advantages of filing a claim based on negligent prenatal care today, call the attorneys at Cordisco & Saile LLC now at 215-642-2335.