We’ve long written about SSRIs—selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors—such as Paxil, Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, and Zoloft. SSRIs block the re-absorption (reuptake) of the neurotransmitter, serotonin, in the brain to boost mood.
A judge has ruled that Paxil birth defect lawsuits can proceed; a class action is being led by a woman who alleges the popular antidepressant caused a birth defect in her daughter. The British Columbia mother took Paxil while pregnant with her daughter, who was born with a hole in her heart, said The Province.
The British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that Faith Gibson may proceed with her lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline Inc., the maker of Paxil, with her allegation that the SSRI caused birth defects. An attorney for Gibson pointed out that more that 200 children are believed to have been born with Paxil cardiovascular birth defects, said The Province.
Meah Bartram, Gibson’s daughter, was born two weeks before GlaxoSmithKline wrote to physicians in September 2005, warning them about the increased risks for cardiovascular defects when taking Paxil during pregnancy, The Province said. The letter included the preliminary results of a study that found that “ventricular septal defects” were possible in the children of women who took Paxil when pregnant and suggested that this be considered when treating expectant mothers.
“The plaintiffs allege that GSK knew or ought to have known of the risk before then,” according to the court ruling released earlier this month, said The Province. The lawsuit must prove that Paxil caused the defect in the unborn child. The plaintiff’s attorneys feel confident that they will be able to meet this condition, according to The Province.
We previously wrote that a new study suggests that there is too much of a risk taking SSRIs during pregnancy, including potential increased risks for miscarriage, pre-term births, neonatal health complications, and long-term neurobehavioral abnormalities. Neurobehavioral abnormalities include autism, which suggests that SSRIs should be used to treat depression with great care, as well as sufficient counseling to those women who are diagnosed with depression and who are trying to become pregnant, said researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Tufts Medical Center, and MetroWest Medical Center.
We also previously wrote that a growing body of research has linked SSRIs to birth defects and other issues when used by pregnant women, especially in the early months of pregnancy when many women don’t realize they are pregnant. One study published by researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute found that taking an SSRI antidepressant during pregnancy was associated with a two-fold increased risk of neonatal pulmonary hypertension (PPHN). Another report published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that babies exposed to SSRI antidepressants before birth exhibit reduced head growth at birth, and are more likely to be born prematurely.
The plaintiffs seek financial compensation for the harm caused to their babies, said The Province. That amount will depend on the complications suffered; some children required minor surgery, while others will have life-long disabilities. Meah has not fully recovered and is not expected to make a full recovery, said The Province.