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Antidepressants & Birth Defects

Since at least 2009, researchers have identified a link between the use of antidepressants early in pregnancy and heart defects. But a recent case-control study has linked use of certain antidepressants with a higher risk of other defects. It has also found that certain antidepressants can cause defects other than those involving the heart.

If your child has been born with a defect, contact our law firm today. One of our Miami medical malpractice attorneys would like to discuss your legal options.

Are the Antidepressants to Blame—or Maternal Mental Health?

Up to 8% of pregnant women in the United States are currently taking antidepressants, so understanding the link between their use and birth defects is vital for the health of children. The researchers examined whether certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) increased the overall risk of developing a birth defect when taken early in a pregnancy.

Specifically, fluoxetine was associated with double the risk of developing a congenital heart defect (pulmonary venous return). Venlafaxine had the highest risk of birth defect risks, including those involving the oral cleft.

Until now, scientists have been unclear as to what causes the defects—underlying effects of maternal mental health or the medication themselves. Researchers concluded that accounting for the mental health could not eliminate all of the birth defects, so there is some evidence that the medication is to blame.

Should You Still Take Antidepressants?

Researchers noted that the risk of birth defects is small and scientific consensus is that the benefits of treating a mother’s mental health outweigh the risk of a defect in children.  However, patients should still pay attention to the medication that they are prescribed. The most dangerous SSRI, venlafaxine, is not a first-line medication for mothers. If a doctor does not try alternatives, then a patient is being put at risk.

Doctors also need to fully disclose the risks of medication with their patients. They should also ask if a patient is pregnant or likely to become pregnant, which could affect the medication prescribed. When doctors do not obtain informed consent, they are liable under the law in Florida and might need to pay damages to their clients.

Speak with a Miami Medical Malpractice Attorney

Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP has helped many parents obtain compensation when their children are injured. For a free consultation with a member of our team, please call us today, 305-371-2692. We offer free consultations.