Ohio Lawsuit Blames Zoloft for Baby’s Birth Defect Death

Zoloft, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant (SSRI), has been name in a lawsuit that claims it caused a baby to be born with a fatal birth defect called <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/anencephaly-side-effect-birth-defect-lawsuit">anencephaly. Anencephaly is a neural tube defect, “generally described as the absence of a large part of the brain and skull,” according to the lawsuit.

According to a report from Courthouse News Service, the Zoloft anencephaly lawsuit was filed by Susan and James Hodge of of Alaska filed their suit in Ohio’s Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas. Defendants named in the complaint include Pfizer, the maker of Zoloft, and Cardinal Health. The couple accuses Pfizer of covering up studies that documented Zoloft’s link to the fatal birth defect.

According to the lawsuit, Susan Hodge read the Zoloft prescribing information before she began taking it, and “relied upon the fact that congenital birth defects … were not listed or emphasized on the Zoloft monograph and/or drug information as a basis to believe that Zoloft was safe for use during her pregnancy.”

As a result of Susan’s use of Zoloft during her pregnancy, the Hodge’s son, Dillon, who was born on October 1, 2009, developed the birth defect anencephaly, the lawsuit says. He died the day after his birth as a result of the condition the following day.

According to the Hodge’s complaint, “Pfizer had the knowledge, the means, and the duty to provide the medical community and the consuming public with a stronger warning regarding the association between Zoloft and congenital birth defects … through all means necessary, including, but not limited to, labeling, continuing education, symposiums, posters, sales calls to doctors, advertisements, and promotional materials, etc. Pfizer breached this duty.”

Anencephaly typically occurs in 1 out of every 10,000 births, although it is suspected the number is much higher since many such pregnancies end in a miscarriage. The condition is marked by:

• Absence of the skull
• Absence of the brain (cerebral hemispheres and cerebellum)
• Facial feature abnormalities
• Heart defects

A 2007 study published in the Harvard School of Public Health that drew on data from the Centers for Disease Control’s National Birth Defects study found that anencephaly was one of three neural tube defects most often associated with a mother’s use of an SSRI antidepressant.

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