A number of birth injuries have been associated with use of Prozac (one of the two most popularly prescribed antidepressants on the market today). A selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Prozac has a number of beneficial effects, including treatment of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, premenstrual dysmorphic disorder (PMDD), bulimia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, it has been known for some time now that use of Prozac during pregnancy can lead to birth injuries and/or defects.
Prescribing Prozac to Pregnant Women
Graded a class C drug by the FDA, Prozac is known to have some harmful effects on animals and is available only through a prescription. However, because class C drugs cannot be ethically or legally tested on fetuses or infants, the risk associated with taking these drugs while pregnant cannot be accurately determined before they go to market.
As a result, without any warning against prescribing Prozac to pregnant women, many doctors assumed that there would be no unwanted side effects to the health of a fetus. To avoid relapses into depression, eating disorders, and other issues associated with an imbalance in brain chemistry, doctors continued to prescribe Prozac to pregnant women for many years, beginning in the early 1990s.
Risks of Birth Injuries and Defects
More recent studies have shown, however, that taking Prozac while pregnant can increase chances of birth injuries and/or defects. These include problems with the heart and lungs, such as persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) in which a baby’s lungs and heart do not fully or immediately adapt to breathing outside of the womb.
Other Prozac birth injuries and defects include anencephaly and cleft palate or lip. In the case of anencephaly, the baby will be born without part of its brain and/or skull. A cleft palate involves a fissure or gap in the upper palate and/or lip, often requiring reconstructive surgery. Both of these problems are most strongly associated with Prozac use in the third trimester, especially within the last month of pregnancy.
Who is Responsible in a Prozac Birth Injury Case?
If a baby suffers a birth injury or defect due to Prozac use during pregnancy, the mother’s doctor and/or the pharmaceutical company may be considered responsible for the baby’s health problems and should be held liable for paying damages to the mother.
In some cases, a doctor will prescribe Prozac to a pregnant woman in limited doses to avoid dangerous relapses into depression, bulimia, and other disorders. However, to do this ethically, the doctor must warn the mother of the risks for Prozac birth injury and must ensure that the mother understands those risks fully. If the doctor does not do this, then they are acting negligently and should be held responsible.
Likewise, if a pharmaceutical company neglects to include proper warnings of potential Prozac birth injury or defect on their labels, then they have shown negligence. Years ago, this negligence would have been due to lack of proper testing or warnings against potential harm. Today, with studies proving the strong association between Prozac and birth injury, it is a case of neglecting to include known information about the drug and its potential harmful side effects.
If you were prescribed Prozac during pregnancy and were not properly warned about potential birth injuries or defects, then you may have a Prozac birth injury case, especially if your baby suffered any of the injuries or defects listed above. To discuss your case and the best course of action for you to pursue damages – including medical bills, pain and suffering, etc. – contact Bandas Law Firm today for a free consultation and case review. You may call us at our office at 855-427-3332 or use our online contact form.